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SMC CROSS COUNTRY: Belles take it easy in meet at ND

Ken Fowler | Monday, September 19, 2005

Becky Feauto and Sara Otto ran side-by-side, leading the Belles to a 15th-place finish in the 26th annual National Catholic Cross Country Invitational Saturday.

Belles runners Feauto and Otto finished the five-kilometer run back-to-back on the grounds of the Burke Memorial Notre Dame Golf Course in 20:31 and 20:32, respectively, for No. 42 and No. 43 in the women’s college division.

The times were almost identical to Saint Mary’s best last year, as standout Megan Gray ran a 20:29 in the 2004 race.

The Belles ran with schools from every division of women’s running but were only timed against schools in Divisions II and III and the NAIA.

Former head coach of nine years and current assistant coach Dave Barstis said the Belles looked at the meet as preparation for their upcoming conference schedule.

“Traditionally, we view this meet as a warm-up to our conference meet, which is next weekend,” he said. “It’s more of a workout for us than it is a true race.”

Last year, the Belles also finished 15th in the competition.

This year, Elizabeth Johnson’s time of 21:32 was good for No. 91 overall, and Alicen Miller finished in 98th at 21:40. For the Belles, the race was their only “home” meet of the season, and their fans took full advantage of it.

Two Saint Mary’s students donned the school’s Belle-head costumes and cheered on the Belles along the course route.

Saint Mary’s head coach Jackie Bauters was thrilled to have the support.

“It was great to have them out there,” she said.

Barstis said the crowd was part of the advantage for the cross-county team to participate in a race so close to their campus.

“The Belle-heads, they’re typically more at the [home] basketball games and soccer games,” he said. “They’ve come out for us the last couple years, which is really great. It’s that whole home-meet sprit.”

Barstis said the main thing the Belles worried about in the race was avoiding injuries, which they did.

“This course is a little rough around the edges,” he said. “The rough is really rough, and we worry about ankles turning.”

Barstis said the times might have been somewhat slower than the team could have run, but the coach viewed the event as successful.

“We had a hard week,” he said. “We were on the track, we ran hills this week, so they’re running on tired legs.

“For us, traditionally the times are slow, but it’s because of that – because they’re tired. You’ll see much more favorable times next week when we taper.”

The Belles travel to Grand Rapids, Mich. Saturday to compete in the nine-team MIAA Jamboree.