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SMC Cross Country

Saint Mary’s squad faces ups, downs, makes regional meet

| Friday, May 15, 2020

After an up and down season, the Saint Mary’s cross country team finished the year on a strong note, placing fourth in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference championship meet, before placing 17th at the Great Lakes Regional meet, which was nine places higher than last year’s finish. However, it was still not enough to qualify for the national meet.

“Our team finished fourth in the conference this year, which is closer to where we want to stay moving forward,” head coach Jackie Bauters said. “We are working towards earning a top-three finish or staying in the top four in the conference. Also, [we want to make] a trip back to the national meet.”

Courtesy of Sarah Miesle

The Saint Mary’s cross country team poses for a team photo.

Bauters reflected on this particular season, one which, as a fall sport, was spared from the COVID-19 induced cancellation suffered by spring sports.

“This season was a lot of fun for me as a coach. Working with coachable, driven, women makes my job easy,” she said. “We had some great leadership from the team and good energy. I feel like this group was very motivated, worked hard and was eager to reach goals. As a D-III program without track, we need to have very motivated athletes in order to improve year to year. This group has demonstrated they have what it takes to come back better next year.”

The Belles had a fairly young team last year, with 11 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, and they will return most of their production for next season.

The season got off to a positive start as the team finished 16th at the Calvin Knight Invitational, in a field that included multiple highly ranked Division II and III programs, and followed that by placing 11th at the National Catholic Invitational, which featured multiple Division I teams, including Notre Dame.

They then traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to compete in the pre-national race. According to race officials, the course was changed mid-race due to a gate being opened incorrectly, and partially, as a result, the Belles placed 23rd at the meet.

It was hard to see some of the stuff that we couldn’t control happen this year, course issues at Louisville being the hardest,” Bauters said. “I feel like the team handled it the best they could. But I also wonder, since we were performing so well that day, what kind of confidence we would have had for the rest of the season had we had accurate results that day.”

Saint Mary’s graduates three seniors from this year’s team — Katie Glen, Shanan Hamilton and Maura Honan. Bauters praised her veterans for the work they put into salvaging the program after a rough period.

“I thanked them for everything they’ve done,” Bauters said. “We tried to celebrate them closing out their careers as a Belle. This class has had an interesting four years. The program has had ups and downs within this time. It started with a healthy, competitive team, and went through a big downturn, and this group has helped bring it back to a new starting point. We have been moved in and out of facilities and encountered some interesting days.”

She also reflected on the noteworthy moments this group leaves with her.

“I think some of my favorite memories from this class are the simple daily contributions they bring to the team — the leadership, humor, fun stories,” Bauters said. “They each bring such different and amazing gifts to the team. We are going to miss them all very much.”

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