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SMC CROSS COUNTRY: Otto, Feauto pace Saint Mary’s at MIAA mett

Ken Fowler | Monday, October 31, 2005

Sara Otto and Becky Feauto led the Belles to their best-ever finish at the MIAA Championship Meet Saturday, as Saint Mary’s finished fifth in the six-kilometer race hosted by Kalamazoo College in Three Rivers, Mich.

Two weeks after setting personal records in their final 5-kilometer race of the season, Otto and Feauto once again turned in strong performances for the team.

The junior Otto finished No. 26 overall with a time of 24:15. Feauto, a senior, crossed the line just two seconds later, good for No. 29 in the race.

“I felt pretty good,” Feauto said. “We kept up with [the packs we wanted] … and I was able to finish strong.”

Otto and Feauto both improved dramatically over their finishes in last year’s MIAA Championship, hosted by Calvin College. Otto finished No. 62 there, and Feauto came in No. 70.

Both showed potential earlier this season in the MIAA Jamboree, where Otto and Feauto finished No. 28 and No. 29, respectively.

The two have now placed one-two for Saint Mary’s in each of its seven races this season, but the gap between those two and their teammates has shrunk.

Before the race, Belles head coach Jackie Bauters said she thought her two top runners would lead her team in the 6-kilometer race.

“I think they probably will finish one-two,” Bauters said. “But I don’t think the 3-4’s will be too far behind.”

She was right. Junior Katie White ran a 24:45, and freshman Kelly Biedron finished fourth for the Belles at 25:02.

White’s time was a strong improvement, as she completed the 6k-course four minutes quicker than her time in her last 5-kilometer race, 20:45.

Her pace in the longer race was nearly two seconds-per-kilometer faster than her previous best 5-K.

For Feauto, though her pace was slightly slower this week than during her 19:59 5-K two weeks ago, the race was a success.

“We don’t have many [6-K races], so it’s kind of hard to compare times,” she said. “We were really happy about [the fifth-place finish].”

Saint Mary’s previous best finish in the conference championship was sixth. This year, the Belles’ team score of 163 beat Olivet (170), Alma (183), Adrian (227) and Tri-State (257).

Saint Mary’s main competition in the top four, the host Hornets, staved off the Belles and finished fourth with a team score of 116.

With a team score of 22, Calvin reclaimed the league trophy from Hope, which ended Calvin’s streak of 16 consecutive league titles in 2004.

Hope finished second with 61 points. With a team score of 71, Albion rounded out the top three.