SMC Cross Country: Belles head to Wabash
Kit Loughran | Friday, August 30, 2013
Coming off a strong season filled with consistent improvement, the Belles will hit the ground running when they open their season at the Wabash Hokum Karem on Saturday.
The Belles look forward to opening the season with a fun, mentally relaxing meet, Saint Mary’s coach Jackie Bauters said.
“It is a fun meet,” Bauters said. “The relay style of the race should help people go into it with a nothing to lose mentality and just ready to enjoy racing again.”
With the meet scheduled right at the beginning of the season, Saint Mary’s has had a very short window of time to prepare, Bauters said.
“We have barely had a week of practice, so this will be a real season opener for us,” Bauters said.
Because of the limited practice time, the team will have to rely on its improvements and strengths from last season. The Belles finished the 2012 season in sixth place at the MIAA Championship, falling to Calvin and Hope who finished first and second, respectively. The team then went on to conclude its season at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional race with a 19th place finish.
Having finished sixth last year at the 2012 Wabash Hokum Karem, Bauters is confident the members of the team – both returning and new – can improve their times even more in this meet and throughout the season.
“We have a really solid group that will be leading us this year: both returners and new members of the team,” Bauters said. “I’m looking to my returners to lead the way for our newbies.”
Leading the Belles’ pack in this season opener is senior Jessica Biek. Biek was Saint Mary’s top finisher at all seven individual meets last season. At the 2012 Wabash Hokum Karem, Biek and recently graduated senior Emma Baker finished as the team’s top tandem.
“Biek is definitely back in better shape than last year and armed with a greater understanding of cross country, so I think she will continue to make positive impacts on the team, both in practice and in the results,” Bauters said.
Biek, who is competing in her second season of cross country, said she has high hopes for the season and has high expectations for the Wabash Hokum Karem meet.
“I think that my relay partner [freshman] Brittany Beeler and I will strive to finish our four-mile relay race in under 24 minutes,” Biek said. “To accomplish my personal goals and score for the Belles I’m attempting to improve my time every single weekend that I race.”
Though the Belles graduated six runners, Biek will be joined by fellow senior Colette Curtis and sophomore Allie Danhof, both of whom were top-five finishers for the Belles throughout last season. Bauters said Curtis and Danhof are prepared to make an impact on the team and open the season on a strong note.
“Our returners did their homework over the summer, and so many of them could be difference makers for us,” Bauters said.
Despite losing team members, Bauters looks to immediately utilize the legacy they left.
“We graduated six phenomenal women last year – both on and off the course,” Bauters said. “I hope the team can capitalize on the team chemistry and drive that they helped create to put forth better results this year.”
Talent-wise, Bauters said this is the most talented Belles squad she has ever coached. She said she hopes for a strong finish at the Wabash Horum Karem, but there is no definite answer as to how the Belles will compare to the other teams.
“Time will tell,” Bauters said.
The Belles open their season Saturday at the Wabash Horum Karem race in Crawfordsville, Ind.
Contact Kit Loughran at [email protected]