SMC Swimming: Belles in last after 1st day
BY ERIK POWERS
Saint Mary's began the first of three grueling days and nights of heats, trials and finals at the MIAA Championships from which a champion will eventually be crowned.
But this year's incarnation of the Belles is off to a more challenging start. The squad is stuck in last place after the first day of competition. The Belles have 47 points and are in a deep hole behind first place Calvin (181) and Hope (174). While moving all the way up will be difficult, Saint Mary's has a chance to overtake Kalamazoo (90), Alma (75) and Albion (70).
Junior Megan Ramsey and freshman Kelly Nells finished third and sixth respectively in the 500-meter freestyle yesterday.
Entering the tournament, host Hope (6-0) and Calvin (5-1) were the favorites to win the conference championship. The Belles were looking to pull the upset after losing to Hope by only 16 points earlier this season.
In their favor, the Belles had some momentum heading into the championships coming off a split finish versus Alma and Albion Jan. 18, a meet where Saint Mary's fought back from a deficit in order to pull out a late victory.
The Belles also have had tournament success this year, taking second at the Palm Beach Winter College Classic.
Saint Mary entered the meet behind the majority of the conference, hoping to duplicate the success of last year's squad. Those Belles began the championships 3-4 in conference, yet were in contention for third place for most of the meet before a late slide to fifth place.
Saint Mary's is led by experience, most notably by juniors Ramsey and Maureen Palchak and senior captains Lauren Smith and Lane Herrington.
The Belles must ensure that they have added endurance for longer distances and will be able to parlay their success in their butterfly and short-distance freestyle events to victory.
The Belles also should benefit from the upcoming tournament schedule, which emphasizes their strengths: the butterfly and individual medley.
Competition continues today and Saturday with the preliminaries starting at 10 a.m. and the finals at 6 p.m.
All Sports Stories for Friday, February 14, 2003