MARION—Bellmont's girls and South Adams' boys ran spectacular races Saturday at the IHSAA cross country regional meet at Indiana Wesleyan University and as a result will advance to the semi-state competition this weekend at the Plex in Fort Wayne.
The Squaws finished third in the 10-team field, just one point out of second place but the story of the day was the huge improvement in times all five scorers for Bellmont recorded over the sectional race five days earlier.
Bellmont finished with a combined time of 1:42:47.10 which is a new school record but Coach Carl Risch emphasized the key to the strong performance by his team was the fact Bellmont ran an average of 1:03 faster per runner than what they did in the sectional held at the Bellmont course.
"Our girls stepped up and ran extremely well. All of our individuals performed in an outstanding manner. It was truly one of our top performances as a team and avenged some losses we had earlier in the year," Risch stressed.
Huntington North was an easy winner in the regional with just 42 points and will advance to the semi-state along with Eastbrook 113, Bellmont 114, Northfield 126, and Norwell 126. Non-advancing teams included Canterbury 148, South Side 161, Southern Wells 165, Oak Hill 168, and Bishop Luers 204.
The Squaws were once again led by a huge effort by junior Cady Faurote whose time of 19:47.81 was not only one minute faster than her sectional race, but gives her the second all-time school fastest time. Her race Saturday passed Allyson Hammond (19:54 in 1998--recorded at an Ohio invitational during a time period when Indiana ran 4K races instead of the 5K events of today) and Jordan DeLong (19:48 in 2008). The school record is held by Wendy Mahlan who went 18:49 in 2005.
"I can always count on Cady to be with the leaders in a race of this nature," Risch praised, adding "this was the second time in her career going under 20 minutes, the last time being a 19:58 race last year at the regional on the same course."
Bellmont freshmen placed second and third in their scoring as Bailey Beery tied Allison Gutierrez for the fastest freshman time in school history at 20:05.36 and ended up 14th in the race. Her previous best on the year was 20:16. Emily Gunsett had dropped back to 22:26 in the sectional but blazed her way to a 20:54.49 regional endeavor for 31st place, an improvement of nearly 1:32.
"Bailey's been solid for us all year and really gives us some extra strength at the top of the line-up. Emily is a fierce competitor, perhaps one of the most fierce I've seen here in a long time and is very athletic. Both girls compete on the varsity soccer team as well for Bellmont and for being freshmen, they are incredibly consistent which is not easy to do, especially in big meets," he noted.