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SMC Cross Country: Belles continue postseason

Becki Dorner | Friday, November 10, 2006

Saint Mary’s starts its final run of the season this weekend as it begins the first part of the NCAA Division III Tournament Series at Hanover College. The Belles enter the Great Lakes regional championship after a two-week break following the MIAA Conference Championship, a meet that produced a fifth-place finish behind first-place Calvin College.At the MIAA meet, Megan Gray posted the best ever individual finish by a Belle.Gray’s time of 23:44 on the 6K course earned her sixth place and a spot on the first-team MIAA. Her performance was record-breaking – since the 1998 season when Saint Mary’s cross country first joined the MIAA, no Belle has ever finished in the top 10 at the conference contest.The Belles will need top performances from Gray and all of the women competing, for they will be dealing with some of the best competition in the entire nation. Two of the top-10 teams in the country will battle the women’s six-kilometer regional championship.The field of more than 30 squads features three teams ranked in the top 35 spots in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. Calvin College (Mich.) and Case-Western Reserve University (Ohio) enter the meet ranked among the nation’s top teams. Calvin, ranked seventh overall, swept the MIAA finale with a 15-point effort. The Knights had the first five runners to cross the finish line and had three others in the top 10. Senior Camille Medema won the individual crown, posting a time of 22:58.6. Case-Western, champions of the University Athletic Association, is ranked ninth in the country in the latest USTFCCCA poll.The Belles hope to work together in packs, especially with such a large field of runners. The course is known as a fast one and is very flat, coach Jackie Bauters said last week. The course record is 20:00.2, set by Wartburg College’s Missy Buttry in the 2003 national championship. Bauters could not be reached this week, as she was out of town participating in a race.