Bellmont continued its tradition of advancing its girls cross country team out of the sectional and into IHSAA regional action Tuesday evening with the Squaws placing fourth to move on to regional action Saturday morning at Marion on the Indiana Wesleyan University course.
South Adams will also be visiting Marion with both teams as they challenged boys' champion Homestead before settling for second place while the SA girls earned third. Adams Central finished out of the team race (the top five finishing teams move to the regional) but AC's Kayla Isch will advance to the regional as an individual runner with a 13th place finish in 21:02.90 (the top 15 runners go on as well).
The news of the night was the major upset in the race by Norwell over Homestead.
Homestead came in heavily favored but were outfoxed by the Knights who scored 47 points to 55 for the Spartans. The Starfires were third with 103; these three teams placed seven of the top 10 runners in the field but New Haven's Brenda Diaz was a 27-second winner (and she will advance to the regional without her team).
Hannah Moore of South Adams was second behind Diaz (19:53.42 to 20:20.65) and SA teammate Kristen Muselman was fifth at 20:41.89. Bellmont's Cadence Faurote claimed a top 10 finish ending up tenth in 20:56.88.
Bellmont coach Carl Risch said he came into the meet thinking the Squaws could finish anywhere between fourth to sixth after having been eighth out of eight teams in the NHC meet over a week ago.
Risch pointed out the Squaws tallied 124 points to 145 for Southern Wells while New Haven, which had beaten BHS at the NHC meet, was sixth with 165 despite Diaz's winning time.
"Our finish was a credit to how well the girls ran tonight," Risch exclaimed, adding "the girls were a little nervous at first but they really stepped it up and earned their position. I knew we would have to battle Southern Wells and New Haven to advance and these were both teams that had beaten us earlier this year so we were able to avenge those losses tonight."
Faurote's time was her first sub-21 minute run of the season and was the second best time of her high school school. Risch said that while none of the other four BHS runners who scored posted season-best times, "they all ran awfully good."
Sarah Garner took 18th in 21:29.33, Allyson Norby was 25th in 22:22.81, Alexis Harvey was 29th in 22:51.83, and Amanda Noonan was 42nd in 23:51.52. Amber Loshe was a non-scoring harrier for Bellmont and was 64th in a field of 69 runners with a time of 28:20.39.
"I would think tonight's win has to be a huge highlight for Bob Dahl and the Norwell team," Risch analyzed. "Norwell was beaten by more than 20 points at the NHC by Homestead. Norwell ran really well to get the major upset, and as well as they ran, Homestead didn't run that well. It was a combination of the two for Norwell to win. I just couldn't see Homestead not winning this race coming in," Risch said.
For South Adams, Jenna Smith, Allison Amstutz, and Aleesha Goodwin also scored with Smith being 19th in 21:40.40, Amstutz going 22:49.09 for 28th, and Goodwin was 49th in 24:46.18. Sydney Zuber was the sixth Starfire with a 63rd place clocking of 27:24.24.
Adams Central's Isch ran a strong race to move on to the next level while Olivia Macklin was 35th in 23:14.39, Jessica Ripley was 43rd in 23:56.32, Leah Spangler was 45th in 24:07.40 and Madison Carroll was 52nd in 25:19.50. Also running for the Jets was Mary Fox who ended up 55th with a time of 25:46.25.
The Bellmont sectional advancers will run against teams from Huntington North, Columbia City, Eastbrook, Southwood, and Marion in the regional. Huntington North trailed Columbia City until the fifth runner was tallied. The fifth Viking runner was 15th compared to a 19th place finish for the Eagle harrier giving Huntington North a 45-48 win. Eastbrook was third with 69, while Southwood was fourth at 117, and Marion was fifth at 128. Churubusco was the team hanging on the fringe in sixth with 136 while Whitko was seventh at 179 and Wabash was eighth at 213.
Risch said the Squaws will travel to Marion along with the BHS boys team to practice on the Indiana Wesleyan course on Thursday to get a layout on the land.
"It's a faster course than ours, not many hills and not as many curves and turns so there should be some faster times on Saturday," Risch predicted.