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SMC Cross Country: Belles claim school best over weekend

Michael Todisco | Monday, September 27, 2010

Saint Mary’s claimed their highest finish ever at an MIAA event at this weekend’s conference jamboree at Olivet College.

Two nationally ranked teams, No. 13 Calvin College and No. 10 Hope College took first and second place, respectively.

The Belles finished with a team score of 104, trailing behind first place Calvin with 21 points and Hope with 34 points. Saint Mary’s bested fourth place finisher, Adrian, which finished with 131 points.

Belles coach Jackie Bauters was pleased to see her team crack the top three at an MIAA event.

“As a coach in many ways it was just like any other day… it’s been possible before and was just great to see it happen,” Bauters said.

This historic finish for the Belles could not have come at a more opportune time. The Jamboree counts for one-third of the final conference standings. With the strong showing this weekend, the Belles made great strides towards achieving their goals for the season.

“It has been our goal to finish third in the conference so we are one step closer to achieving that goal,” Bauters said. “In order to be third overall we’ll need to beat Adrian again in the championship meet. We are in a good position to reach our goals heading into October.”

Junior Joanne Almond set the pace for the Belles. She finished in 15th with a time of 23:42, breaking her own personal record for the second consecutive weekend. Coach Bauters attributed Almond’s growing success to her positive outlook and determination.

“[Almond] is a strong runner physically and mentally,” Bauters said. “She has a great attitude and is just a pleasure to coach. If you tell her she can do something she’ll go do it, and that helps to keep her on top.”

Sophomore Julia Kenney was the next Belle to cross the finish line, with a time of 24:01, earning 18th place. Sophomore Emma Baker (21st), and seniors Catie Salyer (23rd) and Sam Wassel (27th) rounded out the five scoring runners for Saint Mary’s.

The Belles’ next competition is set for Saturday at the Sean Earl Invitational in Chicago.