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Gray wins race, leads team to third overall

Matt Gamber | Monday, October 15, 2007

If Saint Mary’s performance in its final tune-up during Saturday’s Manchester Invite was any indication, the Belles are right where they want to be heading into the MIAA Championship meet on Oct. 27.

Senior Megan Gray ran a personal record 18:26 to capture the meet’s individual title for the second consecutive year, winning an event for the second weekend in a row. As a team, the Belles finished third out of eight squads.

“This weekend was huge,” coach Jackie Bauters said. “Megan ran phenomenal, and she ran a very smart race. The pack went out quick and Megan played it smart, taking the lead just before the two-mile [mark] and was never passed again. What a great accomplishment, [winning] two years in a row.”

Strong finishes from freshman Sam Wieczorek and sophomore Megan McClowry, both of whom finished the race in under 20 minutes backed Gray’s performance.

Junior Caitlin Brodmerkel had never placed among the Belles’ top five in her career, but, as Bauters had predicted, she thrashed her previous personal record – by 49 seconds, to finish fourth for the team. Senior Olenka Bilyk rounded out the scoring for the Belles.

“The day was great because across the board, all the hard work has paid off – for everyone,” Bauters said, adding that but one runner achieved a season or career personal record time. “The team was elated at the end of the meet, which is exactly the kind of feeling I want going into championships. They know they can be successful, and it continues to be reaffirmed each week.”

The Belles will now begin their final push toward the championships, where they hope to fulfill the ultimate goal of making this season the best in school history. To do so, Saint Mary’s must finish fourth or better in the nine-team meet, which the Belles did at the Sept. 22 MIAA Jamboree.

“I am so proud of this team, and I couldn’t be more excited for their successes,” Bauters said. “The saying on the team has been ‘I can, I will,’ and I think that speaks volumes of where both this team and program are headed.”