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SMC Cross Country: Belles top D1 opponents

Michael Blasco | Monday, September 14, 2009

Saint Mary’s placed sixth in the field of nine at the NIU Huskie Open as the lone Division III team in competition.

Senior Megan McClowry led the Belles with a time of 20:42.69 on the five-kilometer course. The All-MIAA senior captain finished 22nd overall in the field of 105 runners.

“Megan [McClowry] is a leader by example,” head coach Jackie Bauters said. “She is a wonderful athlete to coach and has a lot of natural talent.”

In a field featuring six Division I teams, Saint Mary’s finished ahead of NAIA Judson, NJCAA Iowa Western, and NCAA Division I Chicago State. Just behind McClowry, freshman Julia Kenney ran a 21:12.20 to finish 30th overall. Fellow underclassman Arianne Rodriguez finished in 21:17.44 to place 32nd. Rounding out the Belles’ top five were junior Clare McVey with a 21:20:17 and sophomore Joanne Almond with 21:26.17.

“Both returners and freshmen made strong showings this weekend,” Bauters said. “It’s evident they took their summer training seriously and are ready for a solid season.”

It was a solid opener for Saint Mary’s, who have high hopes for the season after consecutive fourth-places finishes in the MIAA. The combination of senior leadership and young talent puts the team in a good position to make a run to the top of the conference.

“The team looks good,” Bauters said. “I believe it is the best they’ve looked since I’ve returned to coach.”

The Belles open the MIAA portion of their schedule with the Calvin Invitational in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Saturday, Sept. 19. For Bauters, whose squad has steadily marched up the MIAA ladder since the 2004 alumna’s arrival at Saint Mary’s, the meet will be a crucial test.

“The MIAA meets are of obvious importance to us,” Bauters said. “Returning to the Calvin meet is exciting. Last year there was great competition on a beautiful course. It’s a great event, and I’m excited to take the women back.”