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SMC Cross Country: Belles finish tied for second

Michael Todisco | Monday, October 11, 2010

In an impressive performance, the Belles finished tied for second in a field of 17 teams this weekend at the Benedictine University Eagle Invitational.

Saint Mary’s finished with a final score of 58 to tie Elmhurst College, while St. Francis took first place with 41 points.

Junior Joanne Almond and sophomore Julia Kenney were the top two finishers for the Belles, placing second and third overall, respectively, in the 6K event. Almond finished with a time of 23:41 with Kenney right behind at 23:49.

Belles coach Jackie Bauters said Almond and Kenney have asserted themselves as the unquestioned leaders on the Saint Mary’s squad, as they have finished one-two for the Belles in each of their six races this year. She was once again impressed with the performances of her top two runners.

“Joanne [Almond] and Julia [Kenney] tag-teamed with the front three St. Francis girls the whole race,” she said. “It was great to see them stick it through and beat two of them.”

Bauters saw the race as an important opportunity for Almond and Kenney to grow as competitors and develop new strategies.

“I think they were able to learn some about their own racing strategy having to lead a pack rather than being in the thick of the pack,” Bauters said.

Although Almond and Kenney have been far out in front of the pack, Bauters said the rest of her team has the ability to close the gap on the talented duo.

“Right now there is a gap between them and our next runners,” she said. “Going forward I don’t expect it to be as great as it was this week. The next pack [of runners] just needs to have a little smarter start and really work on their last 1,000 meters.”

As the team begins preparing for the MIAA championships in two weeks, Bauters main focus is to keep the team fit, both physically and mentally.

“I’m hoping to keep them healthy,” she said. “Right before finals is also a tough time of year for us, so I hope they are able to stay well so that they can compete to their potential.”

The Belles next event will be the Manchester Invitational, which will be held next Saturday in Manchester, Ind.