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SMC Cross Country: Belles to compete at Notre Dame

By Brian Hartnett | Friday, September 14, 2012

After finishing 17th against tough competition last weekend, Saint Mary’s will cross Route 933 on Friday to compete against a loaded field in the National Catholic Championships at the Notre Dame Golf Course.

The Belles placed 17th in a field of 22 teams, six of which were regionally ranked, in last weekend’s Calvin Knight Invitational. Junior Jessica Biek ran the fastest time for the Belles, recording a mark of 19:15.7 to finish 50th in the field of more than 300 runners, and sophomore Samee Chittenden finished second among Belles with a personal record time of 20:33.1.

In addition, seniors Elizabeth Majewski and Sarah Copi turned in personal collegiate record times of 20:34.3 and 20:41.8, respectively.

Saint Mary’s coach Jackie Bauters said she was impressed with many of the times recorded at the invitational.

“I was really excited to see Samee, Elizabeth and Sarah Copi work together as a group and all earn [personal records],” Bauters said. “They’ve been working hard together in practice, and I think they are going to be difference makers for the team this year.”

Despite the team’s finish toward the back of the pack at the Calvin Knight Invitational, Bauters said she was encouraged by the team’s gains in the meet, which was its first 5K race of the season.

“It’s hard to go through a tough week of practice and still put a good race out on the weekend,” Bauters said. “They’re not racing fresh right now, so to see these kind of performances is really exciting and makes me hopeful that we will see even bigger gains in the upcoming weeks.”

Saint Mary’s will look to make some gains Friday when it travels to Notre Dame to run in a field of 34 teams, 13 of which compete in Division I. Bauters said she believes the high-level atmosphere surrounding the race will invigorate her team.

“The big races are always exciting,” Bauters said. “We’ve been fortunate to race against a great range of competition in races before, and I think, as long as the race isn’t crowded, it usually helps the team with some fast times.”

The National Catholic Championships will serve as the Belles’ last race before the MIAA Jamboree, which they will host on Sept. 21. The event, which Saint Mary’s last hosted in 2008, will feature all nine conference schools. Bauters said the team is eagerly looking forward to running on its home soil at the Jamboree.

“I think the atmosphere at the Jamboree is going to be the highlight of the season,” Bauters said. “The team is so psyched to run at home that I’m not sure anything else is coming close to it at this point.”

Saint Mary’s will compete in the National Catholic Championships at Notre Dame Golf Course on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu