The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC Cross Country: Belles ready to repeat success in Eagle Invitational

Ken Fowler | Friday, October 7, 2005

This one is big for the Belles.

Today marks the last race in the middle third of the season for the team, and Saint Mary’s enters the competition with high expectations.

Last year in the five-kilometer Benedictine University Eagle Invitational in Lisle, Ill., Becky Feauto led Saint Mary’s to a fifth-place finish in the 23-team field.

Today, the Belles and first-year head coach Jackie Bauters are hoping for just as much success.

“I think this weekend’s going to be really good for us,” Bauters said. “We tend to do pretty good at this race.”

Bauters said her strategy is to continue to improve Saint Mary’s team results is to maximize the performance of individual Belle runners.

“Just a gut feeling, I think this race – because it’s been very good for us – I think it will prove to be the best race for a lot of people this year,” she said.

The Belles have other reasons to be optimistic about the team competition as well.

The Northern Illinois Huskies, reigning champions of the Eagle Invitational, and Saint Mary’s were among the 27 teams in last weekend’s Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational in Chicago. The Belles finished 18th, and the Huskies placed three spots behind at No. 21.

“I think that speaks to our improving,” Bauters said.

Strong performances from several freshmen so far this season have helped the Belles compensate for graduated seniors and injuries. Sophomore Megan Gray finished just behind Feauto last year at the Eagle Invitational and posted the team’s best time in six of its eight races in 2004. But she has not raced so far this season due to injury.

In her absence, newcomers like Kelly Biedron have filled the gap and run exceptionally for the team. Seven of Saint Mary’s 14 point-scorers over the past two weeks have been freshmen.

Bauters said that from freshmen to seniors, the entire team practiced well this week.

“We had a pretty full, hard week of practice this week, and the girls did great,” she said.

The race is the Belles’ final five-kilometer meet for the year, and Bauters said that most of her runners are aiming to record personal best times in the race.

“I really hope they can accomplish [their goals] and have their best [times],” she said.

The race begins at 3:30 p.m. on the campus of Lisle High School.