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SMC Cross Country: Belles earn program’s best conference finish

Katharine Mack | Monday, November 1, 2010

The Belles raced in the MIAA Championships Saturday and placed third overall in the meet with a score of 105.

Saint Mary’s had placed fourth in the MIAA Championships last year. The Belles’ finish this past Saturday was the best yet in program history at the conference championships. Saint Mary’s placed behind two nationally ranked programs, Calvin and Hope.

As the Belles took third both at this race and the MIAA Jamboree, Saint Mary’s also finished third in the MIAA conference for the very first time in program history.

“It’s been a wonderful season and it was pretty sweet to make some cross country history by finishing third yesterday,” Belles coach Jackie Bauters said.

By finishing third in conference, the Belles reached a major goal they had set at the beginning of the season.

“It has been the mission of this team to break into the top three for the past two years, so accomplishing that goal feels really rewarding,” Bauters said. “The goals we had set helped focus the team in practice and push them outside of their comfort zones. The team is responding really well to the workouts this year and seeing success as a result.”

Sophomore Julia Kenney led Saint Mary’s Saturday, with a 14th place finish overall, breaking another PR at 23:05.7. Junior Joanne Almond placed 26th overall with a time of 23:45.0. Senior Catie Salyer made a new PR at 23:66.4, finishing 33rd overall.

Kenney was named second team All-MIAA. She became the fourth Belle in program history to earn All-MIAA honors.

“I was so excited for Julia to make Second Team All-MIAA,” Bauters said. “In our conference it’s been a challenging feat to accomplish with the tough competition. Julia is a very determined individual who sets high achieving goals for herself. She is still learning a lot about her racing strategy and putting together great races, but every race she is becoming an even better runner.”

Almond, a top runner for the Belles worked with Kenney throughout the season.

“Kenney’s development has largely been aided by training with Joanne this season,” Bauters said. “The two of them work together so well, pushing each other. My hope is that their racing tactics can come together at Regionals and pay off.” 

The NCAA Division III Regionals are the next and final step for the squad.

“I’d love to see us break into the top 15 at Regionals this year,” Bauters said. “It will all be a matter of what we bring that day.”

Regionals for Saint Mary’s will take place on Nov. 13 at Hope College in Holland, Mich.