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SMC Cross Country: Belles prepare for MIAA meet

Brian Hartnett | Thursday, October 25, 2012

Saint Mary’s will look for a strong showing against its conference competition when the Belles travel to Albion, Mich., to compete in the MIAA championships on Saturday.

Saint Mary’s returns to competition after having last weekend off. The Belles last competed Oct. 13, when the team finished 28th at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational.

Junior Jessica Biek was the top finisher for the Belles at the Brooks Invitational, as she finished 74th in a field of 500 runners with a time of 23:31.50. Sophomore Samee Chittenden placed second for the Belles, as she set a personal record in the collegiate 6-kilomter event with a time of 24:52.30.

Saint Mary’s will now turn its attention to the MIAA championships, which are hosted by Albion. Belles coach Jackie Bauters said she feels her team is prepared to compete against the best of the conference competition.

“In preparation for [the conference] championships, I’m feeling very confident in our team’s ability to put out their best performances of the season,” Bauters said. “We had a productive fall break and put in quality miles. We are doing final tune-ups this week for championships and the final results will be a function of where our best lies against what other teams put out.”

The MIAA cross-country champion is determined by the MIAA Jamboree, which counts toward one-third of the final standings, and the MIAA championships, which account for the other two-thirds of the final standings. The Belles currently sit in sixth place in the standings after the Jamboree, which they hosted on Sept. 21.

Bauters said the team is looking to move up a few positions in the standings but noted she was more concerned about the team’s ability to turn in consistent performances.

“While we would love the fifth spot, if we are putting out personal records and keeping our pack tight, it is going to be a successful day,” she said.

Moving up in the standings will be a tall order for Saint Mary’s. The Belles will face three teams ranked in the top 10 in the Great Lakes region, including No. 1 Calvin, No. 3 Hope and No. 9 Alma.

Bauters said the rankings reflect the strength of the MIAA.

“Having three teams ranked in the top 10 of the region is an indication of the talent we compete with on a regular basis,” Bauters said.

Saint Mary’s will compete at the MIAA Championships in Albion, Mich., on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu