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SMC Cross Country: Saint Mary’s claims third

Kit Loughran | Monday, November 4, 2013

The Belles finished just two points ahead of Alma to edge the Scots out of third place and claimed the third-place title for themselves at the MIAA Championships on Saturday at the West Ottawa Golf Club in Holland, Mich.
The Belles culminated the season in third place in the final MIAA standings to match the 2010 team with the best finish in program history. Saint Mary’s also had five individual runners earn personal-record times at the meet Saturday.
The Belles completed the race with an overall score of 102. No. 5 Calvin and No. 2 Hope finished ahead of Saint Mary’s with scores of 21 and 26, respectively. Alma finished fourth with 104 points.
“[Saturday] was such a great day,” head coach Jackie Bauters said. “The entire team ran well. It matches the highest overall place we have finished in the conference.
“I’m extremely proud of everyone and their effort on the course.”
Senior Jessica Biek again led the way for the Belles. Biek placed ninth overall and ran a personal-record time of 22:46.
Following the conclusion of the race, Biek became the sixth runner in program history to earn All-MIAA honors. She earned a spot on the second team for her finishes at the MIAA Jamboree on Sept. 28 and the championship race.
“I am so excited to see her reach her goal of breaking into the top 10,” Bauters said. “She made the second All-MIAA team, and she is the first Belle to do so in a good handful of years.”
Biek’s time marks the second-fastest finish by a Saint Mary’s runner in the conference championship, behind Megan Gray and her 22:18 time at the 2007 MIAA Championships.
“[Biek] has been primed for that kind of race and just needed to trust that it was possible,” Bauters said. “She ran a really smart race, letting the lead pack take it out and sit back a little until the second half of the race. She was running about 16th place for most the race and then made her move.”
The remaining members of the Belles’ squad also contributed strong individual performances to help secure the team’s third-place finish.
Belles freshman Brittany Beeler ran a season-best pace of 23:08 and finished in 15th place. Sophomore Allie Danhof (24:03), sophomore Katelyn Dunn (24:15), and senior Colette Curtis (24:28) all ran personal-record times to assist the Belles in their third-place finish.
The veteran Curtis’ strong performance and 29th-place finish impressed Bauters.
“As a senior, she had her lifetime [personal record] in the 6k and ran fifth for the team, definitely helping us beat Alma in the final standings,” Bauters said.
Junior Erin Knauf also ran her best time of the season with a 24:34 for 30th place, and junior Samee Chittenden finished 32nd with her personal record time of 24:41.
Following the conclusion of the conference schedule, the Belles will prepare to end their season at the NCAA Regionals on Nov. 16.
“Our focus [heading into this race] is going to be on staying healthy and getting a few final quality workouts in before the Regional,” Bauters said. “I’m sure it’s going to be an excited group again.”
Contact Kit Loughran at [email protected]