Indians reign supreme at finals
BROOKLYN—He came. He ran. He conquered.
That pretty much sums up Saugatuck senior Corey Gorgas’ experience at the Division 4 state finals at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Gorgas turned in a time of 15:33 to finish 40 seconds ahead of Plymouth Christian Academy’s Luke Pohl to give Saugatuck its first individual champion in program history.
Gorgas finished fourth the past two years in Division 4 after placing 11th in Division 4 as a freshman.
“It was definitely different, especially last year being in Division 3,” Gorgas said. “I had so many guys (around me). I was fourth last year. That was a rough race. Coming back down (to Division 4) this year, being able to focus and train through a lot of this stuff so I could focus on postseason meets was huge for me.”
Gorgas’ individual title served as the precursor to the Indians’ team championship, with Saugatuck placing all five of its scoring runners in the top 30.
Saugatuck’s total of 62 points bettered runner-up Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart—the Division 4 defending state champs—by 50 points anda third-place East Jordan by 89 points.
“I think Corey was actually more excited about the team title than his own championship,” Saugatuck coach Rick Bauer said. “I’m sure some of that was because he was pretty confident he’d win the individual title and he really wanted his teammates to be able to experience winning a championship as well.”
Going into the race, Bauer thought Gorgas had a chance to break the all-time Division 4 record at the state finals.
The course conditions—wet and muddy with standing water in some places—put a damper on those plans.
“The way he’s been running, I really thought Corey could get that record,” Bauer said. “But the course was in bad shape and I think he decided pretty early on he was going to be satisfied with getting the win. He never looked like he was struggling at all and just ran a good race.”
Gorgas was one of two seniors among Saugatuck’s five scoring runners. The other was Ray Bartlett, the Indians’ fourth runner with his 28th-place finish of 17:11.
“I think Ray probably had the performance of the day for us,” Bauer said. “I know that sounds weird to say when we have the state champ, but Ray has come so far these last few years and he ran a great race. The last few weeks you could see the change from him running to racing. He believes in himself a lot more and that showed.”
According to Bauer, Bartlett ran a 17:00 for the two-mile middle school race in sixth grade and was at 14:10 for the two-mile race in eighth grade. His best time as a freshman was 19:10.
“He just got a little better each year and became a big part of this team.”
Sophomore Nik Pettinga finished third at 16:18 and freshman Max Sharnas was 15th at 17:04.
“Nik just continues to get better and better with each race,” Bauer said. “And Max had been sick all week. His dad even said to me, ‘I thought he was going to be the anchor who pulled us down,’ but he really gutted it out and came through big. He’s a gamer and he gave it his all.”
Junior Winston Marcy, a dual-sport athlete who split his time with soccer, was 30th at 17:16 as the Indians’ final scoring runner.
The state championship is the fourth for Saugatuck, with the last coming in Division 3 in 2016. The Indians followed that up with a disappointing 12th-place showing in Division 3 last season.
“Winning this championship has been a goal of this team from day one,” Bauer said. “We knew we had the talent to do it and we put in a lot of hard work along the way. I just didn’t know it was going to be by 50 points.
“Sacred Heart is a great team and we knew they’d be tough. That makes winning this the way we did so much more gratifying.”
And that success should continue in the future with the likes of Pettinga, Sharnas and Marcy returning along with the team’s sixth and seventh runners, freshmen Tristan Ashley (73rd at 18:07) and Adam Martinson (84th at 18:14).