Fans watching the IHSAA girls cross country sectional race at Bellmont Tuesday afternoon wondered for a period of time if the final 67 runners had gotten lost on the back portion of the 5K course.
As expected, Bellmont's Bailey Beery pounded out a blistering 18:21.4 finish which not only was good for first place but also shattered the Bellmont course record set in 2008 by DeKalb's Autumn Beachy of 18:34.
Then it turned out to be a waiting game while Beery rested. It took an amazing 1:07.4 before Norwell's Hannah Aschliman came across in 19:28.8. Nikki Wilson of South Side placed third at 20:09.5.
Beery's effort propelled the Squaws to a first place team finish with 45 points followed by Norwell at 63, Canterbury 71, New Haven 119, South Adams 134 (the top five teams advance to the IHSAA regional race this Saturday at 11:15 a.m. at the Indiana Wesleyan University course in Marion), South Side 139, Bishop Luers 145, Adams Central 212, Bluffton 213, and Wayne, Heritage, and Woodlan all had incomplete teams.
Although the record-setting run of Beery's was the story of the day, Bellmont coach Carl Risch emphasized "our girls were very focused to get the job done. They had a really good week of practice and it was a tremendous effort. There was no way we could have won the team title without a total team effort."
Beery and Aschliman were expected to finish one-two in the individual race but huge improvements by the Squaws saw them paste a setback on the Knights who squeaked past them just over a week ago in the NHC tournament run at The Plex in a driving rain.
SA Boys Storm to Victory
Placing four runners among the top five finishers, South Adams easily won the boys IHSAA cross country title at Bellmont Tuesday with a meager 23 points.
Sawyer Miller and Bailey McIntire finished first and third with times of 16:20.1 and 16:44.0 sandwiched around Norwell's Brent Bales at 16:31.6. The Starfire domination continued with Brody Shane placing fourth in 17:05.3, Daniel Velasco going fifth in 17:21, and Daniel Steffen rounding out the scoring for the Stars of coach Clint Anderson in 10th place at 17:38.7.
"We knew coming in that other teams were going to key off of us. Our kids delivered race in and race out all year long and it was their goal to repeat as sectional champions," Anderson said, adding "what is really cool for them is that this group of kids followed a phenomenal senior group last year that was really strong. This year, these kids ran on their own merits and did a great job."