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SMC Cross Country: Belles off to Wabash for first road meet of year

Joe Meixell | Thursday, September 4, 2008

Saint Mary’s will hit the road this weekend for its first away meet of the season.

The team will travel to the Wabash Invitational to compete against a nine-team field of Anderson, DePauw, Franklin, Indianapolis, Indiana Tech, Marian, Rose-Hulman, Wabash and Vincennes.

The Belles ran their first race of the season at home last Saturday competing in the first annual Alumnae Race.

“The team is looking great,” Belles coach Jackie Bauters said. “I think the team ran well and really got a feel for racing together again. We have work to do, but I am very happy with the start to the season, and it was a really fun weekend for the team and those who came to join us.”

The team is also dealing with the adversity of losing its top two runners from last season. Megan Gray graduated and sophomore Samantha Wieczorek is out for the season with a knee injury.

“Everyone is stepping up,” Bauters said. “We have a great group that is working hard together to push each other beyond their comfort zone. I don’t know that anyone is taking charge, rather the team is realizing their roles and their potential.”

This weekend’s meet differs from the team’s typical 5K race. In this pair relay style, each Belles’ tandem of two runners will run two miles – four miles per pair.

“I’m hoping to see us improve on the things we saw at the Alumnae Race,” Bauters said. “Small groups working together to push each other and see the importance of the team. I expect them to put their best effort forward.”

With four new freshmen this year, the team is trying to help the girls get through their first couple of weeks on campus.

“So far I believe they are handling the balance of being a student-athlete well,” Bauters said. “I believe the team and myself really try to create a supportive, positive environment for everyone to succeed in.”

Following this weekend, the Belles will next compete in the Bradley Invitational in Peoria, Ill., on Sept. 12.