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SMC Cross Country

Beeler leads Saint Mary’s to fifth-place finish at MIAA Championships

| Monday, November 3, 2014

Sophomore Brittany Beeler finished 12th to help Saint Mary’s bring home a fifth-placed team finish at the MIAA Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday.

Beeler finished with a time of 22:53 and earned a spot on the All-MIAA second team. She represents the seventh runner in program history to make one of the two all-conference teams.

“I’m really proud of Brittany,” Belles coach Jackie Bauters said. “Our pre-race goal was to be right where she landed, somewhere between top 10-13. We still have things to work on, but she works so hard and I’m glad to see it be reflected in the second team honors.”

Freshman Natalie Hawkes also led the Belles squad with a time of 23:40 and 20th place finish. Junior Allie Danhof and sophomore Kaitlyn Alessi finished closely behind with times of 24:25 for 26th place and 24:27 for 28th place, respectively. Bauters said the Belles’ young runners’ performances were very important Saturday and have been crucial throughout the season.

“We are a very young team, which is really exciting,” Bauters said. “Many of them are still coming into their own. Natalie has already grown so much in one short year — she will be an awesome runner to look for in the next three years. She is extremely coachable and a focused athlete.”

No. 6 nationally-ranked Calvin played host to the event and protected its event and national ranking by winning with an overall score of 27.

“Kudos to Calvin and (coach) Brian Diemer for their successes,” Bauters said. “I think it is always great to be around a team like Calvin — they work hard, they’re very driven and have a great team environment.”

Hope finished in second place with a score of 55, while the Belles placed just six points behind fourth-placed Alma (113) with 119 points.

“It was tough to lose to Alma by only six points, but it gives us something to continue to work on,” Bauters said. “We have a lot of talent to develop and hopefully that gap will close — maybe even at regionals in the bigger meet environment.”

With the MIAA championships behind them, the Belles have another post-season opportunity to compete. Saint Mary’s will race next at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 15 in Mason, Ohio.

“[Regionals are] an opportunity to leave it all out on the course,” Bauters said. “It would be great to better our performance of a 14th place finish at this year’s regional. I’d also love to see Brittany make the All-Regional team.”

The Belles will compete in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional on Nov. 15 in Mason, Ohio.

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