"We've got senior leadership to go along with a big a strong underclass group. Our numbers are with our younger kids and our leadership is with our seniors. We should be able to combine that and have a pretty good team," stated veteran Bellmont girls track coach Carl Risch.
The Bellmont squad does have some proven commodities. Sophomore sprinter Alexis Harvey, the leading point scorer last year at 170.5, returns after qualifying for the state meet in the 200 and setting BHS marks in both the 100 and 200 meter events. Also back is senior Jessica Brewer, who ran at state in 2009 in the 800 meters and has one of Bellmont's best-ever times in the event at 2:22.85.
The 2011 Squaws will be boosted by an 11-member freshman class that includes standout twins Holly and Bailee Hankenson. Both played on the state championship BHS volleyball team this past fall. Holly will be a strong threat in both hurdles and will likely see action in the long jump and the 1600 relay. Bailee will be in pole vault, high jump and the 1600 relay, along with Harvey and a fourth runner to be determined.
"The 1600 relay has been a favorite event for Holly and Bailee and we hope to be very competitive in that event," said Risch.
Holly has competed in the off-season with the Fort Wayne Express track club, which trains together and competes in summer meets. She is adept in multiple events.
Harvey last spring ran a 12.2 in the 100 and 25.4 in the 200, both BHS marks and she'll head the sprint effort. Sophomore Megan Schueler, freshman Katrina Robinson, and sophomore Amber Loshe will be in the sprint events. The Hankenson girls are certainly capable of scoring in the sprints and will see some action there, notes the coach.
Brewer will head the middle distance group, which will also feature frosh Natalie Busse, who will also run in the 200. Frosh Emily Roman will run in the 400 and 800 meter events. Frosh Macy Burkholder will see work in the 400, 200 and possible the 800 meter run. Other girls in the middle distance events will be Jenise Danels and Peighton Morlan.
The versatile Busse will also see action in high jump and hurdles, as will senior Gabbie Weaver.
There are five girls in the distance group, and sophomore Sarah Garner and frosh Cadence Faurote will be featured. Garner and Faurote, along with Brewer, were some of the top cross country runners for Risch this past fall. Junior Amanda Noonan has shown much improvement over a year ago and will be a scorer for the Squaws. Senior Steph Ehlerding, one of the team captains, will be in distance along with frosh Alyssa Strickler.
Schueler and Rachel Klingensmith, along with Bailee Hankenson, will be the vaulters for Bellmont and Risch has high hopes for the group. Regional qualifier senior Emily Pierce will be in high jump along with Bailee Hankenson. Busse and Roman are learning the event.
Senior Kimmy Meyer will head up the shot put and discus group. The top discus thrower from a year ago, Emily Osheskie, returns. Other throwers include sophomore McKenna Murphy, junior Amber Fuhrman, and frosh Julia Brewer. Amy Reese, frosh Sarah Thieme and sophomore Shyeann Moore will also compete in the weight events.
Risch will use the first several meets to find the best combinations for his 400 and 1600 relay teams, and his top performers in all events. The season opens Wednesday, March 30, with Bishop Luers visiting for both boys and girls meets.