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Belles head to MIAA meet

Michael Blasco | Thursday, September 24, 2009

One week ago, the Belles showed they had what it took to put themselves near the top of the MIAA. This week, they have the opportunity to do just that.

Saint Mary’s heads to Hope College in Holland, Mich., Saturday for the MIAA Jamboree. The event accounts for one third of the season points in conference rankings and should prove a stern test for the Belles, who have finished fourth in the MIAA in each of the past two seasons.

“This weekend the team is looking to improve upon our previous ranking in the MIAA,” coach Jackie Bauters said. “We’re hoping to finish third this year, second if possible. It should be another competitive weekend.”

The Belles are coming off one of the strongest showings in team history at last week’s Calvin Invitational in Grand Rapids, Mich. Six Saint Mary’s harriers posted career-best five-kilometer times, with senior captain Megan McClowry’s 19:35 and freshman Julia Kenney’s 19:51 leading the pack.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” Bauters said. “I believe it is most likely the best team showing by a squad ever at Saint Mary’s. Scorers and non-scorers had lifetime or collegiate [personal records]. It was great to compete against such a talented field.”

The Belles will face their stiffest competition from No. 2 Calvin and No. 7 Hope, each of which feature deep and talented lineups. Saint Mary’s will need to rely on a group of sophomore harriers behind Kenney and McClowry to make ground in the conference.

“I want the team to focus on what we did last weekend,” Bauters said. “We love to run and compete. If they bring that competitive spirit again, we’ll be successful. I’d also like to see our three-six [runners] close the gap a bit with our one-two [runners]. If we can do that, we’ve got a great shot of achieving our goals.”

The MIAA Jamboree will be the squad’s final 5K event of the season and will be the Belles’ last chance to pick up MIAA conference points before the MIAA Championships on Oct. 31st. The race will begin at 11 a.m.