In advance of Saturday's IHSAA state finals meet in girls track, pollsters finally did something that had been warranted all year and that was to put the Bellmont Squaws in the top 10 of the state.
The message to other teams throughout Indiana is clear: that even though schools in northeast Indiana are without question the leader in the state in girls track, anyone who underestimates the ability of the Squaws will have to answer to Alexis Harvey, or Holly Hankenson, or Bailee Hankenson, or Emily Gunsett, or Bailey Beery.
Those five Bellmont athletes will represent the Squaws in eight different events at the state finals, an all-time high in terms of both the number of athletes and events for Coach Carl Risch.
"We went from 16th after the sectional to seventh after the regional, an almost unheard of drop," Risch said of the current poll. He called the poll honor "nice" but said "they really don't mean anything. It's what you do on the track that counts."
The state finals will be held at Indiana University's Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Facility starting at 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 per person.
Bellmont started off its 2013 track campaign by winning the small school division state finals indoor title at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion. They spent most of the season as an afterthought to NHC foe Carroll (Bellmont ended up second to the Chargers in the NHC meet this year) but the Squaws won their sectional and then performed up to their ability at the regional and edged the Carroll team to finish second behind Northrop, the team Risch feels "is favored to win the state meet on paper."
Of course, meets aren't decided on paper and Risch likes to believe his team is one of four (Northrop, Eastern, and North Central) that could score in the mid 40s at the state meet. The Squaws tied for 12th last year at state with 16 points.
"We're excited and looking forward to it," he related, adding "I really feel we can score in at least six of the eight events we're entered in and conceivably could score in all eight."
In his 20 year career as girls track coach at Bellmont, Risch has never coached an athlete who won an individual event at the state track meet but this could be the year he gets one.