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Saint Mary’s finishes seventh of eight teams

Rama Gottumukkala | Monday, October 4, 2004

Facing tough competition from several Division I teams and a top-ranked Division III school, Saint Mary’s took seventh place out of eight teams in the Dennis Stark Relays on Friday.Squaring off against Notre Dame, Illinois State, Valparaiso and Wisconsin-Milwaukee – a top 25 Division III program – Saint Mary’s had several bright spots during the competition.Introducing their youthful team, including only five upperclassmen, to the rigors of collegiate competition, the Belles were able to evaluate the experience and use the Stark Relays as a gauge for the season ahead.”The team dynamic was one of the very big positives for us,” Belles coach Gregg Petcoff said. “We have a lot of new freshmen and this was their first college meet, yet we had a lot of upperclassmen that were leading and were showing them the way and a lot of underclassmen that just stepped right in and learned quickly.”The strongest performance for the Belles on the night was the 400-yard breaststroke relay. Saint Mary’s came in third in a field of eight and the team, consisting of junior Sarah Nowak, senior Michelle Stanforth, freshman Kelly Tighe and sophomore Bridget Green, posted a time of 5 minutes, 4.90 seconds in the event. This time represented the fastest breaststroke relay time that Saint Mary’s has ever posted as a team in the Dennis Stark Relays.Similarly, the Belles also performed strongly in the 400 individual medley relay, posting a time of 9:18.31 in the event. This relay team, composed entirely of freshmen (Tighe, Sara Matesevac, Noreen Sherrad and Lisa Balog), also posted the fastest time ever in that particular event by a Saint Mary’s team at the Stark Relays. While the team’s relay start times proved to be definite positives for the Belles, their turns and streamlines were not as advantageous and will be focal points in practice for the next few weeks.”When you enter that very first meet, especially the first relay meet of the year, you enter it thinking, ‘Okay. What do we want to learn that we need to work on when we come out of this?'” Petcoff said. “The relay starts were ahead of the game so that was one of the good things and we need to constantly take the good, bad and ugly at the end of the meet. The turns and our streamlines were maybe in that ugly category.”With almost a month before Saint Mary’s travels to Holland, Mich. to take part in a double duel meet with Hope College and Olivet College, the Belles hope to take some learning experiences from the Stark Relays and use them to prepare for the rest of the season.”As a coach, it showed us that while we’ve been getting them in shape, we still don’t quite have the speed,” Petcoff said. “With only 15 or 16 practices in the water [we found that], aerobically, we’re pretty sound but we need more speed in the workouts. That’s what we’ve got to focus on in the next couple of weeks.”