SMC Cross Country: Saint Mary’s set to race at Calvin
Michael Blasco | Friday, September 18, 2009
The Belles opened their season with a solid showing at the mostly-Division I Husky Open last week, but the true test for Saint Mary’s will come this weekend in its first MIAA meet of the fall.
The Belles will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., Saturday for the Calvin Invitational. The meet features four MIAA squads, including Saint Mary’s, as well as a collection of strong regional talent, and the Belles are hoping to make a statement after their sixth-place finish at NIU last week.
The showing encouraged Belles coach Jackie Bauters in light of the difficult conditions of the 5-kilometer race.
“All things considered, I was really happy with our performance last weekend at NIU,” Bauters said. “It was a hot one, and, with a lot of our training in the morning, I think some of them struggled through it. However, the effort was there, which is what we want.”
The Calvin Invitational is slated to be dry and mild, ideal conditions for a team still trying to get its feet under them. While senior captain Megan McClowry has consistently led the Belles, a wellspring of young talent has powered Saint Mary’s recently.
“We have some very hard working underclassmen, and I’m thrilled to see them perform well,” Bauters said. “[Freshman] Julia [Kenney] is a worker and always looking to improve. I’m excited for her performance last weekend and believe it will be even better at Calvin.”
Kenney’s 21:20.20 at NIU was good enough for second on the team, behind McClowry’s 20:42.69. Three other Belles finished under 21:30, including the sophomore tandem of Arianne Rodriguez and Joanne Almond.
Saint Mary’s will face strong conference competition at Calvin, with Olivet, Alma, and the Knights among the field. Calvin has taken the MIAA championship 18 of the last 19 years, and the Belles will have to go through them to get a shot at a conference title.
The women’s 5-kilometer race begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in Grand Rapids. The smooth and hilly course begins at the Gainey Athletic Fields one mile east of the main Calvin campus, weaving through the Calvin Nature Preserve.
“Calvin is a great course,” Bauters said. “The returners loved competing there last year. Calvin always puts on a great event.”