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SMC Cross Country: Belles travel for invite

By Brian Hartnett | Friday, September 7, 2012

After opening its season with a sixth-place finish, Saint Mary’s will compete in its first 5K meet Saturday when it travels to Grand Rapids, Mich., for the Knight Invitational, hosted by Calvin College.

The Belles started their season last weekend with a sixth-place finish in the Wabash Hokum Karem, a six-mile relay race consisting of two-person teams. The tandem of senior Emma Baker and junior Jessica Biek recorded the top finish for the Belles, taking 13th place overall with a time of 24:50. The senior duo of Elizabeth Majewski and Sarah Copi also placed in the top-20 finishers, earning the 17th-overall spot with a time of 25:20.

Belles head coach Jackie Bauters said she was pleased by the team’s energy in its first race.

“I was really encouraged by how excited and ready to race the girls were before the meet,” Bauters said. “It’s not always easy to get your team ready to compete, but I feel like they really brought the appropriate amount of energy.”

Bauters said she was particularly impressed with the performance of Biek, a newcomer to the team who played on the Belles soccer team two seasons ago.

“I have been working on trying to get Jessie Biek to run cross country since she came in as a freshman, and I hope I’m right in saying that she has found her home,” Bauters said. “She is a naturally gifted runner, and it has been fun coaching her thus far.”

This weekend, the Belles will face the challenge of competing against a talented field of 21 schools. The Belles, who rank 10th in the Great Lakes region, will face five other teams ranked in the top-10 of the region – No. 1 Calvin, No. 3 Northern Ohio and No. 5 Case Western Reserve. Bauters said the invitational would provide a great early-season test for her team.

“Racing with this level of competition early in the season will provide the team with experiencing in racing in a large field, finding their racing strategy and being able to compete with the best of the best in the region,” Bauters said. “I’m hoping it reveals that our team is a tough group that is ready to work together to bring home results.”

Saint Mary’s will also face the test of adjusting to a longer-distance 5K race, in which many of the Belles haven’t raced since last fall. Bauters said she expects the race to be a slight adjustment for the team, but added she was confident in her squad’s ability to succeed.

“For most of them, it’s been a long time since they’ve raced competitively, as we are limited to the racing experiences we can garner in the fall,” Bauters said. “My hope for the team is that they trust their hard work and instincts to go out and compete. The work is in, now it’s just time to get to the starting line.”

Saint Mary’s will compete at the Calvin Invitational in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Saturday at 10 a.m.