Saugatuck junior Zach Pettinga hoists the Indians' championship trophy. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)The Saugatuck boys’ cross country team rolled to a state championship with a 51-point performance. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)

Saugatuck boys secure second state championship in three years

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

How well does Sauagatuck boys’ cross country coach Rick Bauer know his athletes?
Based on the following scenario, quite well indeed.
Despite finishing fifth in a time of 16 minutes and 51 seconds—the fastest time of any freshman in the race by 2:44, mind you—and helping Saugatuck claim a regional title, Corey Gorgas was less than thrilled with his showing at the Division 4 regional on Saturday, Oct. 31. After all, he was the fourth Indian to cross the finish line after running as high as the second spot on the team at various points during the season.
That prompted Bauer to make the following statement: “(Gorgas) was not happy with his performance and usually when that happens he comes back the next race with something special. So I expect he’ll have a big day at the state finals.”
Gorgas did just that.
Posting a time of 16:41 at the state finals on Saturday, Nov. 7, to finish 11th overall—and second on the team behind Zach Pettinga’s runner-up time of 16:22—Gorgas played a key role in securing Saugatuck’s second state championship in three years.
The Indians’ score of 51, which bested runner-up Bear Lake-Onekama by 41 points, was the lowest score in the Division 4 state finals in 16 years as all five of Saugatuck’s scoring runners finished in the top 15.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Bauer said. “The guys were just amazing. You always dream about guys running that well in a state meet, but in your mind you know it’s not likely to happen. We knew we could potentially have five guys in the top 15, but for them to actually go out and execute that feat is another thing.”
The groundwork for the state championship began at last year’s state finals. That’s when Saugatuck fell four points shy of capturing its second straight state title, with Beal City claiming the victory by a 105-109 margin.
“These guys have worked so hard since last year’s state final,” Bauer said. “For 371 days, all they thought about was those four points that kept them from the state championship and they didn’t want that to happen again. So they worked incredibly hard last winter and then throughout the track season. And they held each other accountable all summer. That’s what you’ve got to do if you want to have a shot to win.”
 

For full story, pick up a copy of the November 12 issue of The Allegan County News or The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.

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