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SMC Cross Country

Belles get healthy for conference championship

| Thursday, October 30, 2014

Saint Mary’s will travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to run at the MIAA championships, hosted by Calvin, this Saturday.

The meet accounts for two-thirds of the final conference standings, so it will play a major role in the outcome this season for the Belles. The team last raced two weeks ago at the Oberlin Inter-Regional Rumble, where they finished 20th out of 40 teams with a score of 579. During the Rumble, the Belles were hampered by a combination of illness and muddy conditions, coach Jackie Bauters said.

“[We should] finally be past the sicknesses that we were dealing with over the past few weeks,” Bauters said.

Bauters said she expected the team would be able to improve on its finish at the Rumble and at the Sept. 27 Jamboree, in which the Belles finished fifth of nine teams.

“Our goals are to be third in the conference this weekend, trying to beat out both Alma and Albion,” Bauters said. “Our pack is strong, and we are looking to run as tight as possible this weekend.”

The Belles finished third in the championships and in the conference last year, the team’s best-ever finish.

In order to build off last year’s strong season and overcome the loss of former captain and all-conference selection Jessica Biek, the Belles made a point to race against tough competition this year, Bauters said.

“I’m glad my team has raced against some of the best as it challenges them to not only be their best but also to pay attention to what works and doesn’t work for them as far as race strategy when the teams toeing the line are different,” Bauters said.

The Belles hope that strategy pays off this weekend, and Bauters said she was optimistic about the team’s chances.

“It should be a competitive race on Saturday,” Bauters said. “The team and I are excited.”

The final conference standings are at stake this weekend, and the Belles will take the course Saturday at noon at the MIAA championships.

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