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SMC Cross Country: Belles prepare for six-kilometer Great Lakes Regional

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 11, 2005

It’s the last race of the season, and the Belles want to close the season with their best performance of the year.

Three Saint Mary’s seniors will finish their careers Saturday at Voice of America Park in the NCAA Div-ision III Great Lakes Regional and five others hope to end their season with personal records before coming back next year.

“Typically at Regionals we haven’t ever had personal records,” junior Becky Feauto said. “But I would like to break my [personal best] 6-K time of this year.”

Feauto and Belles senior Sara Otto are the only two Belles who participated in the meet last year and will again Saturday.

Feauto finished the six-kilometer course in 24:57, and Otto crossed the finish line in 26:00.

Their 6-K times from the MIAA Championships two weeks ago indicate they are both likely to improve drastically their times from a year ago.

Otto finished that race in 24:15, just two seconds ahead of Feauto.

The junior wants to do even better than that.

“24 [minutes] is a good goal to shoot for,” Feauto said.

Otto, Jess Eaton and Megan O’Neil are the Belles three seniors who will be running in their final meet.

Eaton said all were excited and hoped to run their best in their last collegiate meet.

Two weeks after head coach Jackie Bauters saw the Belles turn in their best-ever finish at the MIAA Champion-ship, she said the team hopes to improve on its performance from a year ago, when Saint Mary’s placed No. 22.

“I’d like to see at Regionals everybody do as well as last week if not better [than in the MIAA Champion-ships] because that’s the kind of shape they should be in,” she said. “And I would like to see that translate to us doing better in the region than we did last year.”

Freshman Grace Fey said she expects the team to do exactly what its coach said.

“I think everyone on the team is going to improve this weekend,” she said, citing runners’ improvements throughout the year.

Feauto said she hoped the Belles’ improvements would put them in a better position to track down upper-tier conference foes in the race.

“I think we can take on Alma and stay with Kalamazoo,” she said.

Last season, the Belles finished one place ahead of Alma in the Regionals.

Bauters said she changed the team’s practice routine slightly as the season came to an end and the longer meets approached.

“We’ve just been doing quicker stuff this week,” she said. “Just faster turnover.”

That routine, she said, keeps the runners fresh and strong.

The Belles will send eight runners to the meet, where seven will compete and five will count towards the team’s total.

Freshman Alicen Miller said Bauters has given her team good advice going into the meet.

“She told us to run hard and run our best to have fun,” Miller said. “It’s good to get this under our belt and get the experience behind us.”

Feauto agreed, noting that Regionals is the only true travel meet for the team during the course of the season.

“Regionals is all about the experience because it’s our only overnight,” she said.

The Belles hope to make the most of the opportunity at race time. They take off from the starting line at 11 a.m. Saturday.