FORT WAYNE — Missing senior captain Kyle Lehrman, the Bellmont boys cross country team battled in the annual Northeast Hoosier Conference race Saturday on the IPFW course and finished sixth with 133 points.
Lehrman suffered a broken leg recently obviously putting him out for the season and that forced BHS coach Randy Hisner to run a no-senior line-up with four of the five harriers being in their first-ever NHC meet and three of those are running cross country for the first time in their career.
In the girls section of the meet, Bellmont placed seventh but got a boost from senior Jessica Brewer, who ran a season's best 20:36 for 27th place overall.
Hisner told the Braves prior to the meet "we could finish anywhere from third to eighth" but that he was aiming for fifth. Competition in the middle of the field was extremely tight evidenced by the fact Bellmont was just 10 points out of third and had fourth-place DeKalb beat them by two points and fifth-place Norwell by just one.
The Braves were once again led by Evan Boucher who narrowly missed placing on the NHC first team with a 16:45 clocking good for eighth place overall. Nick Fuelling ended up 13th in 17:02 to earn second team status as well and Blake Adams posted a season-best 17:32 for 25th place.
Michael Braun and Josh Porter ended up 43rd and 44th respectively for Bellmont and Porter broke 19 minutes for the first time this year at 18:48 while Braun's time was measured at 18:42.
Other runners who participated included Adam Corral who also broke 19 for the first time at 18:50 (46th) and Tyler Fenwick with a 17-second personal record time of 19:13 (51st). At the junior varsity level, Logan Neher finished in 19:42, Aaron Hallman in 20:17, Harrison Jacobson in 22:18, and Robbie Ehlerding in 22:52.
Carroll's James Martin easily won the NHC individual race with a superb 15:39 time, the only runner in the race to crack the 16 minute barrier. Homestead won the team competition with just 37 point while Carroll was second at 46. East Noble was third at 123 followed by DeKalb 131, Norwell 132, Bellmont 133, Columbia City 149, and New Haven 156.
Brewer Leads BHS Girls
Jessica Brewer had her best time of the year, a 20:13, finishing 27th for Bellmont in the NHC Girls Cross Country meet held at the Plex in Fort Wayne Saturday.
Bellmont took seventh as a team with 201 points to the 36 of first-place Carroll and 50 of second place Columbia City.
Sectional foe Norwell ran sixth at 163, and the Squaws defeated New Haven, another team set for the Oct. 12 Bellmont Sectional, by nine points.
"It was Jess's best time of the year by 36 seconds,, beating a time she ran last week at the same location. She stepped up and that was a real highlight of the meet," said veteran BHS coach Carl Risch.
Brewer ran 23 seconds faster than normal Bellmont leader Srah Garner, who competed with a leg problem, running a 21:09 for 37th overall.
"Sarah went out a little fast, and her leg was giving her some problems, but she still ran just 14 seconds off of her best-ever time. Her best race is still ahead of her," stated Risch.
Frosh Cadie Faurote ran a best 21:24 for 39th. "She just gets better and better. Now we have three good runners, all within a minute of each other," said Risch, who hopes to get his squad to the regional for a 17th straight year.
Sophomore Alexis Harvey ran a best 23:28 for 48th places, a 31-second improvement, and the second straight week she has turned in a best time.
Senior Olivia Babb ran a 24:01 for 50th place despite practicing little for 10 days. She was just 20 seconds off of her best time ever.
Amanda Noonan ran 26:22 for 53rd and Maddi Werling went 27:07 for 54th.
In the jayvee race, Steph Ehlerding ran a 28:33 and Kaitlyn Roe a 29:48.
Brianna Johnson of Carroll ran an 18:59 for top individual honors for the girls, beating Columbia City's Samantha Roush by 12 seconds. Coral Whaley of Carroll was third in 18:50 and Columbia City's Renee Menzie fourth in 19:09. Olivia Hippensteel was fifth for the winners.
The Squaws will host the Bellmont Girls Cross Country Sectional on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Homestead, Norwell and South Adams are the top team favorites. To finish fifth and advance, Bellmont will be competing with Woodlan, Southern Wells, Adams Central and New Haven.