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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Belles’ 2022 cross country season marked by growth

Head coach Jackie Bauters and the Belles of the Saint Mary’s cross country team were a team not defined by immediate success, but progression this past season.

When asked if her team accomplished their goals, Coach Bauters said, “Largely, we did. We came together and ran well as a group. Everyone was performing their best at the end of the season. We were just short of where we could’ve been, but had we had three more weeks we would’ve had even better running.”

Coach Bauters believes the key to the team’s gradual improvement was the team spirit built during practice. Bauters noted how “key individuals developed confidence throughout the season,” and that attitude spread to the rest of the team.

“Other girls on the team were able to say 'I train with that person!' And their confidence grew to match their level of training,” Bauters said.

That journey to unlocking the talent Bauters saw in her squad from day one shows in the Belles’ results. They opened the season at the Manchester Hokum Karem with the duo of junior Amanda Tracy and freshman Isabelle Auch finishing third in the competition. Seniors Alexa Zeese and Anna DeMars finished sixth.

However, the Belles struggled at their next two events. They finished sixth and 14th (but seventh among non-D1 programs) in the Calvin Knight Invitational and the Notre Dame National Catholic Invitational, despite some strong individual performances. 

The Belles then clawed their way to a respectable 29th finish out of 36 teams at the DIII Preview Meet on Oct. 1 The real indication of a stronger, more confident group of runners came at the Oberlin Inter-Regional Rumble on Oct. 15. Tracy, Auch and sophomores Susanna Bernovich and Brigid Hull all broke their personal time records. Freshman Mary Weber set a personal record in the six kilometer race and senior Julia Crowley surpassed her previous season best, as well.

The MIAA Championships, an event Coach Bauters called the top moment of the season, saw the Belles place sixth. Junior Haley Greene and Tracy set personal 6k times. DeMars, Hull, Zeese and seniors Mikayla Trumbla and Angela Bannan set new personal records. Auch, Bernovich and freshman Carly Davis set personal records by ridiculous margins — 20, 36 seconds and 42 seconds, respectively. Senior Julia Crowley set a personal record 6k time, as well. Coach Bauters says their team success all started with their simple mantra: have fun.

“We went into it running for each other, running for our team, and running for a purpose outside of ourselves. We were saying, ‘I’m not anxious about my time, I’m here to run for my team.’ Sometimes you run really well and don’t feel good about it, but everyone ran and felt great,” Bauters said. She called that race a top-five experience in her career.

Going into next year the Belles hope to build on the late-season success.

“(We're) committed to the vision of the program, so we’ve won half the battle,” Bauters said. Reborn by their evolution throughout this season, the Belles are looking forward to hitting the track next season.