Clad in their pink postseason jerseys, members of the Saugatuck boys’ cross country team are seen at the start of what proved to be a regional-championship-winning performance.

Saugatuck overcomes injury to win regional title

Jason Wesseldyk

The news leading up to the Division 4 regional race in Allendale on Saturday, Oct. 25, wasn’t good for the Saugatuck boys’ cross country team.
Senior Jacob Pettinga, the team’s leader and top runner, had been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot. He was done for the season.
“It was an emotional week,” Saugatuck coach Rick Bauer said.
That emotional roller coaster continued at regionals, as the Indians rallied around Pettinga to win the regional championship with 33 points.
Eau Claire was a distant runner-up with 82 points, followed by North Muskegon with 95 points.
“The guys, for the most part, ran really well,” Bauer said. “We had a number of guys—five of our top seven—set new (personal records).”
A pair of sophomores—including Pettinga’s younger brother Zach—led the way for the Indians.
Zach Pettinga finished second in the race overall and first among runners on a participating team with a 16:24. Classmate Nick Butch was one spot behind that at 16:30.
“I thought that Zach and Butch ran a fantastic race,” Bauer said. “They stayed calm and didn’t get caught up in the blistering early pace that was set. Going into the mile, we were way back. Zach and Butch were not in the top ten yet and the others were in the 20s. They really moved up well.”
Butch, in particular, saved his best for last.
“Butch fell off a bit from Zach and normally that would cause him to panic,” Bauer said. “But he stayed calm and was able to run down two other runners in the last 600 to grab third.”
Joe Brown, the only other senior among Saugatuck’s top runners besides Jacob Pettinga, was also at his best. His time of 17:01 had him crossing the finish line eighth overall and seventh among those in the team competition.
“That was the best race that Joe Brown has run all year,” Bauer said. “He had one moment where he fell off but he was able to hold on a lot longer than he has all season long. I expect a great race from him next weekend (at the state finals).”

For full story, pick up a copy of the October 30 issue of The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.

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