Sophomore Lily Francis was the third runner for Saugatuck, coming in 52nd at 20:31 to help the Indians claim fourth place at the Division 3 state finals. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)

Saugatuck girls take fourth at state finals

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

Although the Saugatuck girls’ cross country team was competing in Division 3 for the first time after moving up from Division 3, Indian coach Angelina Bauer said not much had changed for her team.
“We’ve been in this same position many times before, pretty much every year since 2007, in Division 4,” Bauer said. “We come into the state finals ranked in the top 10, but we’re still under the radar. It’s the same thing this year.”
And like they’ve done so many times in the past, the Indians used that lack of attention to their advantage.
Saugatuck turned in a 152-point performance to earn a fourth-place showing, finishing behind Traverse City St. Francis (77 points), Lansing Catholic (88) and Benzie Central (125).
Thea Johnson, who took over as the Indians’ top runner late in the season, led the way. Her time of 19:26 was good for a 13th-place finish to earn her All-State honors.
All-State goes to the top 30 finishers.
Paisley Sipes joined Johnson on that All-State list, crossing the finish line in 22nd place with a time of 19:46.
The other three scoring runners for Saugatuck were Lily Francis (52nd at 20:31), Jillian Vera (74th at 20:49) and Natalie Martinson (75th at 20:51).
Ceci Stickel and Rudy Joon also competed for Saugatuck. Stickel was 99th at 21:12 and Joon was 145th at 21:47.
And as good as the Indians were this season, they could be even better in the future.
None of the team’s top six runners are seniors, with only one—Sipes—being a junior. Johnson, Francis, Martinson and Stickel are all sophomores, while Vera is a freshman.
 

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