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Improving Belles travel to Olivet

Joe Hettler | Friday, October 10, 2003

Saint Mary’s is peaking at the right time, which could mean major problems for the rest of MIAA at this weekend’s conference championship at Olivet.”This is the biggest tournament of the fall,” Belles coach Mark Hamilton said. Saint Mary’s is first in the conference standings and is coming off its best performance of the season. The team placed first at an MIAA competition at Adrian Sept. 27, beating rival Hope by 12 shots. Stefanie Simmerman took the individual medalist honors with an 81. Julie Adams fired an 83 and was followed by Megan Mattia’s 84. The Belles had finished right behind the Flying Dutch in three previous tournaments before that victory.The win put Saint Mary’s nine strokes ahead of Hope heading into this tournament, which will be played today and Saturday.Hamilton said his team is ready for this weekend’s challenge.”They’re peaking at the right time. They’ve really worked on the mental side and learning what is expected of them,” Hamilton said. “The team is also learning how to practice better and better.”This weekend also showcases two of the best in the MIAA in Hope’s Lacey Wicksall and Simmerman. Wicksall leads the conference with an 81.7 scoring average, followed closely by Simmerman’s 83.0 average. The Belles have three of the top five individual scoring averages in the MIAA, with Adams third and Mattia fifth, averaging 83.3 and 87, respectively. Adams is just one stroke behind Simmerman for the fall.Hamilton said he believes the Belles are the best in the conference, but they will have to prove that this weekend.”[Last week] we felt like we got back to where we should be,” Hamilton said. “We know [Hope] is a good team, but we honestly feel that we’re better. This week we have to make that for real.”The winner of this tournament should get a better seed in the NCAA tournament and that could go a long way to helping one team win the national title.The Belles have steadily improved from their first match this fall. They have placed no worse than fifth, took second twice and won one tournament.The team will look towards a solid spring season after the fall and the possibility of placing in the national tournament.