SMC Cross Country: Belles ready for Eagle Invite
Becki Dorner | Friday, October 6, 2006
The Belle runners head into the Eagle Invitational today in perhaps the best shape they have been in all season.
Many Belles coming off personal bests last weekend at the Sean Earl Invitational, hosted by Loyola University Chicago. Megan Gray was the top individual for the Belles, breaking 20 minutes for the first time this year with a recorded 19:27. Sara Otto was just shy of the 20-minute mark, finishing the 5K with a 20:10.
Saint Mary’s came in 17th out of 33 teams, with Case Western University taking the overall team crown.
“Many of the girls stepped up,” said Belles head coach Jackie Bauters of her runners’ performance in Chicago. “Megan Gray has been a consistent leader for us, and is on top of her game right now. I was excited to see Alicen Miller and Caitlin Stevenson race well. I think we’ll see a lot more out of them in the next few weeks which will help close our scorers distance.”
Miller and the other Belles pushed themselves especially hard this week in practice, with local storms and changing weather conditions making training a little bit complicated.
Bauters, however, was pleased that the team managed to log some good hours on the course.
“[We were] trying to put a little more quickness in the team, incorporating some more speed rather than strength training,” she said.
Last year at the Eagle Invitational, hosted by Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., the best times out of the current roster came from Otto with a 20:20, Katie White with a 20:58, Kelly Biedron with a 21:20, Stevenson with a 21:25 and Miller with a 21:56.
“[The course has] a tight start going into the first mile with hill and bridge at the bottom,” Bauters said. “It’s flat besides the hill just before the mile mark. … It’s typically a good race for us.”
However, wet conditions from recent storms could make the course run slower than usual.
With the MIAA Championships looming in the near future – to be held at Alma on Oct. 28 – the Belles hope to peak during these next few races.
The Belles hope to better last year’s fifth place league finish, and Bauters is confident with the state of the team’s prospects.
“I feel like the team is in a good place right now for the MIAA a month away from now,” Bauters said. “Things are starting to pick up for the team, and this past weekend’s success has really boosted the confidence of the team – they’re excited to compete.
“Our competition is doing well too, it’s going to be tough, but I feel like we’re on track to really peak at the championships, which is our goal.”