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SMC Cross-Country: Field of 400 awaits Saint Mary’s in Peoria

Kate Grabarek | Friday, September 12, 2008

The Irish will test their mettle against more than 400 runners today at the Bradley Invitational in Peoria, Ill.

Belles coach Jackie Bauters said she wants the team to get a good base time for the 5-kilometer race.

“The team is looking great,” Bauters said. “We have work to do, but I’m very happy with the start of the season.”

Earlier this season the Belles hosted the Alumnae Exhibition race. It was the first time the team ran together in a competitive format since losing its top two runners from last season.

“I think the team ran great together during the alumnae race,” Bauters said. “And while I believe they are all working very hard, without much outside competition I think it isn’t as true of a representation of what we’re capable of at this time.”

Last weekend the Belles took fourth place at the Hokem Karem in Crawfordsville, Ind. The race was a relay format with the top three finishing teams contributing to the team score. Many upperclassmen stepped up to help the Belles finish fourth. Junior Megan McClowry and freshman Adrianne Rodriguez, who finished 10th overall with a time of 23:45, led the team. NAIA team Indiana Tech claimed the crown.

One strength for Saint Mary’s this year is its good mix of upper and underclassmen.

“I thought they were great at the Hokem Karem,” Bauters said. “Everyone really pushed themselves as hard as they could and I believe not knowing the caliber of the other teams was of benefit to us.”

Bauters said she is looking for her team to go out hard and race well against the vast competition.

“I want to see the team go out on the course and not hold back,” Bauters said. “We will be tired but I still want to see them mentally go in ready to compete.”

So far this season, the team is what Bauters expected it to be. She said there have yet to be many surprises and that no one has really stepped up, but instead runners have filled the voids left by the graduation of Megan Gray.

The Belles head to the Calvin Invitational on Sept. 20.