SMC Cross Country
Season Recap: SMC records highest conference finish in program history
Kit Loughran | Friday, May 16, 2014
Saint Mary’s hit the ground running from the start and never looked back over the course of the 2013 campaign. The Belles matched their highest conference finish to date, won the Manchester Invitational and finished in 14th place at their NCAA regional, the best finish in program history.
“In my mind, this past season was one of our best seasons to date,” Belles coach Jacqueline Bauters said. “Entering the season, I was both anxious and nervous about the season due to such a large number of first-years, as well as new upperclass-women. I was very proud of how they came together as a group.”
With five first-years and eight underclassmen running for the Belles, senior captain Jessica Biek set the tone throughout the season, leading the young team in every race for the second consecutive year.
At the MIAA championships, Biek finished in ninth place in a personal-best time of 22:46, which earned her all-MIAA honors. Two weeks later, she reset her personal record at the Great Lakes Regional and was named to the all-region squad. Biek is the sixth runner in program history to earn all-MIAA honors and only the third Belle to receive all-conference and all-region accolades in the same season.
“Individually, I’m proud that I pushed myself faster every single race to eventually get down to a 22:35 time for the 3.7-mile race, [but] the biggest takeaway from this season [for me] has been the importance of having a group of supportive people around while trying to accomplish a goal,” Biek said. “I don’t think our team would have been as motivated and successful without our positive team culture.”
As a team, Saint Mary’s enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in program history. The Belles posted their best finish in a conference event since 2010 with a fourth-place showing at the MIAA Jamboree on Sept. 28. On Nov. 2, the Belles beat out Alma by two points to claim third place at the MIAA championship. Their third-place finish in the conference championship earned the Belles third place overall in the league, matching the team’s best-ever finish.
“Our conference championship stands out as one of the most memorable days,” Bauters said. “While we had a decent amount of consistency in our top five to seven, the places were interchanging frequently, and everyone did their job that day to ensure a third-place finish.”
Moving forward, the Belles will enter their 2014 campaign with five of their top seven runners back to lead the way once again.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if my talented teammates keep moving up higher in our conference in the next few years,” Biek said.