The Belles will head into their first conference meet of the season at the MIAA Jamboree hosted by Adrian College on Saturday. The Belles hosted the MIAA Jamboree last season and finished the race sixth out of nine competing teams.
Saint Mary's coach Jackie Bauters said despite the Belles' very competitive conference she has higher expectations for her team than last year.
"We are hoping to finish fourth out of nine teams, which would be an improvement from last year," Bauters said. "It would also be great, as the other three teams are currently ranked in the top 10 in the region."
The Belles enter the race after an eleventh place finish at the Calvin Knight Invitational on Sept. 14. Belles senior Jessica Biek ran a five-kilometer personal record time of 19:03.9, which marked the fifth-fastest time in the program's history.
After the Calvin Knight Invitational and a week off of competition, Bauters said the Belles are ready to race again.
"I think just about everyone is ready to have a great performance," Bauters said. "We had a really tough workout [Tuesday] night that the girls nailed."
Bauters said the training for the rest of the week will not be as intense as it was early during the week.
"The rest of the week will be lighter than normal so that we can keep them feeling fresh for Saturday," Bauters said.
Biek and sophomore Allie Danhof, who also posted a collegiate personal record time for a five-kilometer with a 19:39.8 at the Calvin Knight Invitational, look to lead the team into the race, but Bauters said there is another player who she believes will break through at the race.
"I'm hoping to see a big race out of [freshman] Kathryn Marshall," Bauters said. "She is coming off an injury from last track season and has been looking really good in practices."
Marshall posted a time of 20:47.3 at the Calvin Knight International to finish 164th overall.
Bauters said she has goals for the Belles as a team overall.
"I would love to see our 3-5 as well as the 3-7 gap close up this week," Bauters said.
Bauters said she is confident in her team's racing ability and performance this weekend.
"I think the team is ready to have a good day," Bauters said.
The Belles hit the ground running at the MIAA Jamboree at Adrian College in Adrian, Mich. on Saturday.
Contact Kit Loughran at firstname.lastname@example.org