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SMC Cross Country: SMC takes top eight positions

Molly Sammon | Thursday, September 2, 2010

Eight Saint Mary’s runners completed Wednesday’s home exhibition race before the first female runner from Goshen finished as the Belles got a strong start to the 2010 season.

“They looked really great with a good, strong finish,” head coach Jackie Bauters said. “They ran together for the most part, which is great. It was a really good first race performance.”

The Belles welcomed both the men’s and the women’s teams from their cross-town competitors, the Goshen College Leafs.

“It was nice for the girls to have the men to compete with,” Bauters said. “We don’t typically race against Goshen. It wasn’t an overly competitive meet, and not someone I’m looking to gauge our success off of.”

Sophomore Julia Kinney (20:48) was the first female competitor to cross the finish line and came in 11th overall. Kinney was closely followed by her teammates junior Joanne Almond (21:03), senior Catie Salyer (21:22), senior Claire McVey (22:07), sophomore Emma Baker (22:09), and senior Kristy Kucharski (22:14).

With the exception of freshman Colette Curtis, the team’s roster hasn’t changed much since last fall when they concluded their season at the NCAA Division III Regional Competition in Terre Haute, Ind.

“We have a lot of depth this year, and our front pack looks a lot more relaxed and a lot deeper,” Bauters said. “This is probably one of the strongest teams I’ve coached.”

The Belles welcome back sophomore Dani Haydell, who took the second half of last season off due to an injury. Haywell completes the 19-person roster.

“Even though this wasn’t a race that counted towards anything, they still went out and gave their best today,” Bauters said. “They have high expectations in general of themselves, which will make for a good season for us.”

Despite the hints at upcoming success, the Belles will be working on one particular aspect before the upcoming conference meets.

“I think we’re just going to have to get our racing strategy for our three through seven spots so they can race together,” Bauters said. “They kind of split up today. We’re going to try to close that gap from three to seven and have that be a really strong pack before we go to our MIAA competition that really counts.”

The next competition for the Belles will take place at Wabash on Saturday.

“We hope we can recover enough to be ready for Saturday,” Bauters said. “The first couple of weeks are just going to be exploring what we have the potential to do.”