SMC Cross Country
Belles place fifth at MIAA Jamboree
Alex Carson | Monday, September 29, 2014
Saint Mary’s took home a fifth-place finish at the MIAA Jamboree on Saturday, the first of two events when all of the conference’s members will get together this season.
The Belles were led by freshman Natalie Hawkes and sophomore Brittany Beeler who finished 18th and 20th, respectively, and both completed the six-kilometer race in under 25 minutes — 24:43 and 24:57, respectively. The two were followed across the line by sophomore Kaitlyn Alessi, freshman Reilly Pieri and junior Allie Danhof, who were all among the top-30 finishers at the meet. Belles coach Jackie Bauters said she was pleased with her pack of runners this weekend.
“Our core pack was closer together and further up and closer to our pair [Hawkes and Beeler] that got free this week, which was good to see,” Bauters said.
Saint Mary’s was just four points behind Alma for fourth-place at the meet. Alma was led by sophomore Kaitlyn Arnold, who finished fifth, and senior Misty Godley, who crossed the line in 12th, but did not place its fifth scoring runner inside the top 40. With such a small gap between the teams, Bauters said she believes the Belles can chase down Alma on Nov. 1 at the MIAA Conference meet for fourth place.
“I think we could’ve had those four points [to make up the gap on Alma] on Saturday, and I think the work is there,” Bauters said. “Obviously I hope that we’re much better on Nov. 1, but I think the work was there to beat Alma this past weekend and unfortunately, it didn’t happen. That was disappointing for all of us.”
In order to make up that gap, Bauters targeted her team’s race strategy as a spot for improvement.
“It’s all about working out the kinks on the race strategy,” Bauters said. “We have to make sure the middle portion of our race doesn’t get the best of us and need to focus on racing the competition a little bit more because I think we can.”
The Belles were led across the line by youth — six of the seven runners that factored into the team result Saturday are either freshmen or sophomores — and Bauters said she thinks her team should improve at the six-kilometer distance as the year goes on.
“We’re very young and have a lot of talent,” Bauters said. “This was the first six kilometer for any of my first-years in their life, so while it’s not totally different than a five kilometer, it’s something different to experience. I think by the end of the season they’ll feel a little more confident in racing the distance.”
While Saint Mary’s will look to build as the year goes on, it will have the opportunity to grow further down the road as well.
“We’ve got a great group to work off of the next couple years,” Bauters said. “It’s exciting to have a first-year [in Hawkes] feeling confident enough to take the race and everything else.”
The Belles are off this weekend and run next in Lisle, Illinois, at the Benedictine Eagle Invitational on Oct. 10.