Three seemed to be the magic number for senior Saint Mary’s cross country captains Riley Swope, Brigid Conmy, Claudia Stiglitz, and head coach Jackie Bauters as they looked back on the 2021 season. Three senior captains led the Belles cross country team this year to a fruitful season that fostered the growth of many of the women on the team, especially those who laced up their spikes for the last time. Swope described the dynamic between the three captains.
“We are three completely different leaders. With us all together, it really just puts the team together and all works out. Brigid has more of the voice and Claudia puts together the team bonding stuff. And I feel like I am a role model encouraging my teammates during workouts or races. Just like cheerful [energy].”
Swope led the senior captains on the course with a team third place and a time of 25:00.8 in the 6K race of the Great Lakes Regional Championship. In speaking with the group, it is apparent how each of these women has influenced this team. The team as a whole finished 22nd out of 37 teams at the NCAA regional meet. They finished sixth out of nine teams in an MIAA conference that is one of the strongest in the nation. The conference featured a pair of top-15 programs.
Sophomore Haley Green led the squad at both postseason meets. She set consecutive personal bests to pace the Belles. At the regional, Green set a personal best by 23 seconds, running the 6K in 23:41.9.
Home races provide special opportunityThe magic number three reappears for the Belles as during the season they were fortunate enough to have three of seven meets that were all run in either South Bend or Notre Dame. This advantage provided a special opportunity for the Belles to feel extra support from family and fans. These extra home meets were a chance for the Belles to demonstrate the work ethic that is so ingrained in the culture of this program.
The Belles are one of only two teams in the MIAA not to have a track program. Any progress is reflective of the work that the team puts in during the offseason. “In Division III, it really comes down to what you do on your own.” Bauters said. “That’s the end game...It is up to you. how bad do you want it? How much do you want to work?”
Senior captain Brigid Conmy reflected on what Saint Mary’s cross country has meant to her over the last four years.
“I would not get through the workouts or the races or really any of college without Saint Mary’s cross country,” Conmy said. “These women and Jackie...have been like my rock and I think that comes with culture.”
There is an undeniably strong culture on this team, cemented by the three senior captains. Both of the captains that spoke with the Observer attributed their success to the lessons they learned and the networks provided by Saint Mary’s cross country.
Riley Swope is a Fulbright Scholar recipient. After graduating, she will be working on a project in Ecuador teaching English. She plans to start a youth running program.
Brigid Conmy will head to Uganda to work at a health clinic with the Sisters of the Holy Cross after graduation. After returning, she will work at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.