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SMC Swimming and Diving: Belles’ comeback falls short against rival Albion

Mike Monaco | Sunday, February 5, 2012

The final score may show a 153-125 loss for St. Mary’s after swimming against conference rival Albion at home Saturday, but the Belles (1-7, 0-6 MIAA) had a solid performance on their Senior Recognition Day ⎯ considering they don’t have any divers.

The Britons (2-3, 2-3 MIAA) got out to a 24-0 lead after the diving portion of the meet, but St. Mary’s kept it competitive during the swimming events, falling by the narrow margin of 129-125.

Belles coach Mark Benishek said he was satisfied with the end result given his team’s initial deficit.

“It was a great meet for the girls, especially from the standpoint of where we’re at in the season,” Benishek said. “I know it isn’t really reflected in the score, but the thing is that we don’t have any divers rights now, and it’s tough to recover from being down by 24 before we even start swimming.”

When the Belles did eventually hit the water, they tried to make up for the initial deficit. Junior Liz Palmer and senior Katie Donovan turned in strong performances for St. Mary’s. Palmer finished third in both the 1000-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle races, while Donovan won the 200-yard freestyle competition and came in third in the 100-yard freestyle event.

In addition to Palmer and Donovan, the Belles were led by their usual cast of upperclassmen.

Senior Audrey Dalrymple won the 100-yard breaststroke, the 200-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley races. Fellow senior Megan Price had wins in the 1000-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle events.

Junior Kristyn Gerbeth recorded a trio of second place finishes in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly races.

Saturday marked the first meet for the Belles since Jan. 20, and the team took full advantage of the two-week layoff to train harder and get stronger, Benishek said.

“We’ve been training a lot these last two weeks as we geared up for Albion, and I think it really showed,” Benishek said. “Also, when you factor in our training trip over winter break, we’ve been getting a lot stronger. I think it showed today with some really phenomenal times and some great time drops.”

The loss to Albion closes out the regular season for St. Mary’s, but the team remains optimistic heading into the MIAA championships that begin Feb. 15. The Belles had a strong showing at last year’s conference championship, a finish Benishek is looking to improve upon.

“My expectations for the team are still pretty high,” Benishek said. “Every year you try to set a new bar. Last year was my first as the head coach, and they exceeded my expectations with the fifth-place finish in the conference championships … I’m looking to see more of the same this year.”

St. Mary’s is one of the smaller teams in the MIAA, a reality heightened by the loss of sophomore Alex Kane, who is studying abroad.

“We’re even smaller than we were last year,” Benishek said. “But we’re at the same level as a team and probably even a little stronger strength-wise and swimming-wise.”

St. Mary’s concludes its season with the MIAA championships, which begin Feb. 15 in Holland, Mich.



Contact Mike Monaco at [email protected]