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SMC Cross Country: SMC heads to MIAA Jamboree

Cory Bernard | Friday, September 23, 2011

After getting their feet wet at the highly competitive Calvin Invitational last weekend, the Belles dive headfirst into conference action Saturday as they travel to Angola, Ind., for the MIAA Jamboree.

The Invitational boasted a 16-team field, with four MIAA schools. At the Jamboree, hosted by Trine, all nine conference members will be present. Though Calvin has taken the conference title the last six years, Belles coach Jackie Bauters said the Jamboree will also feature good competition from other schools.

“Hope and Calvin are back-and-forth in the rankings both nationally and regionally,” she said. “It’s a competitive situation there. Also, Albion’s women’s team is pretty solid this year, and Alma and Adrian have some good lead runners that help them score well. It should be a really interesting day.”

Saint Mary’s possesses a solid lead runner in senior captain Joanne Almond. Almond posted a personal best by more than 40 seconds at the Calvin Invitational, and clocked the Belles’ first sub-19 minute five-kilometer time since 2007.

“She’s a well-rounded leader,” Bauters said. “Her teammates can watch her actions and see her hard work, but she’s also a real rah-rah leader, and she’s the first person to acknowledge another person’s accomplishment.”

Due to a few non-standard races to open the season, the Belles have not yet raced a six-kilometer race, the distance of Saturday’s course. Bauters said her team is excited to compete this weekend and hopes to learn more about its strengths and weaknesses.

“We are definitely ready to perform well this weekend,” she said. “It will be good for us to see where we are and where we need to go in another month. We had our first real 5k last weekend so we’re still figuring ourselves out.”

On their way toward understanding their abilities Saturday, the Belles will have to navigate an unfamiliar course. According to Bauters, a home course can aid the host school as they know the location of certain difficult stretches.

“It makes a big difference,” Bauters said. “None of this team has seen the course we’re running this weekend. It’s a little hilly, so knowing it well enough to know where to push is helpful. We won’t have that advantage this weekend, but we’ll overcome it.”

The women’s race at the MIAA Jamboree begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.