Nik Pettinga was the top runner for the Saugatuck boys at the Cougar Falcon Invitational, placing third. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)

Saugatuck cross teams both finish in top three at Cougar Falcon Invitational

Jason Wesseldyk

To be the best, you have to beat the best.
That’s what the Saugatuck cross country teams were hoping to do on Saturday, Sept. 22, as they competed in the Cougar Division of the Cougar Falcon Invitational at the Gainey Athletic Complex.
Moving back to Division 4 this season after a few years at Division 3, Saugatuck had a chance to square off against Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart, the defending state champs in D4 for both the boys and the girls.
And the Indians acquitted themselves quite well.
The Saugatuck boys finished with 104 points to place second behind only Division 3 Hart’s winning score of 84. McBain was third at 118 and Sacred Heart was fourth at 127.
On the girls’ side, Saugatuck ended up with 101 points to place third behind Hart, the top-ranked team in Division 3, with 37 points and Sacred Heart (83).
“This was a great meet filled with ranked teams from all four divisions,” Saugatuck boys’ coach Rick Bauer said. “The meet was of particular interest to our teams in particular as it was the first time we would see Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart Academy.”
Making the boys’ runner-up showing all the more impressive is the fact that they were competing short-handed.
“We came into the meet down one harrier,” Bauer said. “Well, more than just one, our number one, Corey Gorgas.”
This was the second straight Saturday the Indians had to compete without Gorgas, who was on a recruiting trip to Northern Arizona University, the top-ranked team in NCAA Division 1. The previous week Gorgas competed in the Elite race at the Spartan Invitational on Friday, Sept. 14, with the team competing in the Holly Invitational the next day.
And just like at Holly, it was sophomore Nik Pettinga who stepped up to lead the Indians.
Pettinga ran a season-best 16:19 to place third behind Harbor Springs’ Jeremy Kloss (15:57) and Holland Black Rivers’ Sam Sharnas (16:07).
“Going into the meet, we hoped to keep the score close, but realistically felt beating (Sacred Heart) would not be a likely scenario,” Bauer said. “The boys exceeded expectations and then some, and Nik again led the way.”
Freshman Max Sharnas was 12th with a season-best 17:08. Junior Winston Marcy (20th with a personal-record 17:20), Freshman Adam Martinson (30th with a personal-record 17:45) and senior Ray Bartlett (39th with a season-best 17:56) rounded out the scoring runners for Saugatuck.
For the girls, senior Thea Johnson led a trio of Saugatuck runners to finish among the top 11. Johnson was sixth at 19:20.
Sophomore Taylor Connor (10th at 19:36) and junior Natalie Martinson (11th at 19:45) were close behind.
Senior Lily Francis placed 36th with a season-best 21:00 and junior Sophie McQueary was 38th with a personal-best 21:09.


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