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Belles to compete in championships

Anna Fricano | Friday, November 12, 2004

Ten of Saint Mary’s top runners will represent the College on Saturday at the NCAA Division-III Regional Cross-Country Competition, hosted by Alma College. The Belles, who finished the regular season in sixth place in the MIAA standings, will face the majority of its conference including Hope, Calvin and Albion – teams that finished first through third, respectively.

Saint Mary’s will return four runners to the regional race from the 2003 roster. Junior Becky Feauto and sophomores Erin Nolan, Sara Otto and Katie White all ran in the race, then hosted by Hanover College. Joining the ladies this year will be freshman Megan Gray, along with sophomores Allison Beyer, Meaghan Herbst, Meghan Murphy and Ashley Oberst. Risa Zander will be the lone senior competing for the Belles.

The 2004 season hasn’t exactly been an easy road for the team. After an injury hurt the team’s position in the MIAA Jamboree, Saint Mary’s was put in a difficult position for the conference championship. The fourth-place spot that the Belles had hoped for eluded the team as more ailments and injuries prevented a few of the top runners from achieving their highest performance at the meet. Since the Saint Mary’s Cross Country team has primarily been focused on improving its conference standings – the Belles finished in sixth-place – the regional race is not a principal concern for the team. Coach Dave Barstis has said in the past that the regional meet is mainly a cool down for the training that the team does for the critical conference competition.

For the majority of the team, Saturday will be one last opportunity to improve as a group and look ahead to prepare for next year. Zander, who will wear her Saint Mary’s uniform for the final time, looks at her last race as an opportunity to have a strong finish to a memorable experience with the team.

“Personally, I would like to finish on a strong note … that I can look back on with pride, just knowing that I didn’t leave anything behind,” Zander said.

A total of 32 schools will be represented at the Regional Meet on Saturday, held at the Pine River Country Club in Alma, Mich.

The women’s race will begin at noon.