Senior Zach Pettinga (left) and sophomore Cory Gorgas led the way in the distance events for Saugatuck at the Division 3 MITCA State Meet. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)Paisley Sipes helped the Saugatuck girls’ track team finish fifth at the Division 3 MITCA State Meet and win the SAC championship. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)

Saugatuck track teams secure top-five finishes at MITCA 

By: 
Jason Wesseldyk

CLARE—After winning both the boys’ and girls’ Division 4 Michigan Interscholastic Track & Field Coaches Association State Meet championships last season, Saugatuck moved up to Division 3 this season.
And while the Indians were unable to match their title-winning performances, they again proved themselves to be among the top teams in the state, regardless of division.
The Saugatuck boys’ squad finished fourth with 748 points, while the girls’ team ended up in fifth place with 774 points.
Clare won the boys’ meet with 1,023 points, followed by Hillsdale (979) and Frankenmuth (911.5). Frankenmuth claimed the girls’ title with 945 points, with Benzie Central (931) second, Adrian Madison (899) third and Clare (892.5) fourth.
“Moving up a division has certainly changed a lot of the game and we’re still trying to figure out how to best adapt to the new field that we face,” Saugatuck boys’ coach Rick Bauer said.
Not that the move up in division provided the only obstacle for Saugatuck.
“Today was an extremely challenging for us with the long bus ride early departure time. I think emotionally both the boys’ and girls’ teams were a little zapped after regionals last Friday, the SAC meet on Tuesday and the seniors graduating on Thursday. It was just a very difficult and emotional week.
“We tried not to over extend our kids that are racing next week at (Michigan High School Athletic Association) state finals. In doing so, it made it difficult for the team to compete with the likes of Frankenmuth, Benzie Central and Hillsdale.”
Cory Gorgas headlined the effort for the Saugatuck boys’ team, as he was part of both of the Indians’ event wins. In addition to taking the top spot in the 1,600 with a time of four minutes, 27.05 seconds, he also ran the lead leg of the winning 3,200 relay team that posted a time of 8:09.5.
Zach Pettinga, Orlando Carrion and Nick Butch followed Gorgas in the 3,200 relay, which set a new school record.
Gorgas added another solid showing in the 3,200, running a 10:36.6 to place sixth. Teammate Keegan Seifert place second in the event at 10:09.59.
Other highlights for the Indians included a third-place showing by Brad Dunn in the 110 hurdles (16.15) and placing three in the top 10 in the discus as Xavier Cardona was fourth (135 feet, one inch), Cole Hartman was sixth (133-04) and Dylan Avalos was ninth (129-11).
Saugatuck’s remaining top-10 finishes were: Cardona (fourth at 45-00) and Avalos (ninth at 43-05.5) in the shot put; Sam Putzke (seventh at 24.01) in the 200; Ryan Kunkel (seventh at 16.64) in the 110 hurdles; Dunn (ninth at 44.22) in the 300 hurdles; Donnie Drew (sixth at 11-6.25) in the pole vault; the 400 relay team of Jacob Stewart, Jeff Kohlmeyer, Cooper Myers and Darren Washington (seventh at 46.58); the 800 relay team of Dunn, Washington, Putzke and Hartman (eighth at 1:35.03) and the 1,600 relay team of Hartman, Putzke, Butch and Connor Carper (ninth at 3:56.28).
The Saugatuck girls failed to win an event, but did get a runner-up showing from Thea Johnson in the 800 (2:19.92), a third-place effort from Sydnie Avery in the pole vault (10-00) and a pair of fourth-place finishes from Morgan Beckman in the shot put (31-08) and the discus (99-08).
Paisley Sipes (fifth at 5:15.55) and Natalie Martinson (ninth at 5:31.14) also finished in the top 10 in the 1,600, as did Kierstyn Stoin in the 400 (1:01.74) and Taylor Connor in the 3,200 (12:46.29).
In the relays, the Indians put together three fifth-place finishes: the team of Kyrah-Lynn Rodriguez, Hannah Howard, Lily Francis and Stoin in the 400 (52.5); the team of Howard, Rodriguez, Stoin and Johnson in the 800 (1:49.15, a new school record); and the team of Francis, Megan Jenkins, Johnson and Sipes (9:52.53) in the 3,200.
The 1,600 team of Francis, Stoin, Johnson and Howard placed sixth at 4:13.43.
“It was nice for us to get some of the seniors a chance to compete for the last time at a state championship meet,” Bauer said. “All of the seniors have just been awesome the last four years and today was sort of a bittersweet day and watching some of them compete for the last time.  
“For the rest of the team I think it opened her eyes to how much harder we’re going to have to work if we want to be one of the best teams or programs in Division 3.”
The MITCA Team State Meet came four days after both Saugatuck teams successfully defended their SAC championships. The boys’ team racked up 139.5 points to end up with more than twice as many points as runner-up Delton (66) and the girls’ team amassed 149 points to beat out Delton by 69.5 points.
Both teams dominated in the distance events.
Gorgas won the 1,600 for the boys with a 4:33.07, while Pettinga (second at 4:33.11), Heelan (seventh at 4:40.94) and Seifert (eighth at 4:21.1) also placed in the top 10. The 3,200 saw Saugatuck take five of the top-10 slots as Pettinga won it with a 10:16.16, Josh Schutzenhofer was third (10:31.86), Jacob VanderRoest was fourth (10:37.01); Seifert was eighth (10:50.38) and Corbin Blink was ninth (10:55.48).
The Saugatuck girls, meanwhile, had five of the top-10 finishers in the 800 and 1,600 as well as three top-10 finishers in the 3,200.
Johnson led the way, winning both the 800 (2:27.2) and the 1,600 (5:11.56).
Other top finishers in the 800 were Sipes (second at 2:29.23), Martinson (third at 2:34.33), Jillan Vera (eighth at 2:36.3) and Rose O’Brien (ninth at 2:36.54). In the 1,600, Sipes was second at 5:29.17, Martinson was fourth at 5:38.94, Taylor Conner was eighth at 5:43.45 and Vera was ninth at 5:44.78.
Ceci Stickel was third in the 3,200 at 12:54.58, with Sophie McQueary (ninth at 13:34.37) and Hailey O’Shinski (10th at 13:48.14) followed.
The Saugatuck girls also got wins from Stoin in the 400 at 1:01.57, Francis in the 300 hurdles at 47.27 and Avery in the pole vault at 9-00. )
The Indians also won all four relays: the 400 team of Abby Hartgerink, Howard, Stoin and Rodriguez ran a 52.73; the 800 team of Howard, Kalie Lavery, Rodriguez and Stoin ran a 1:50.76; the 1,600 team of Johnson, Stoin, Francis and Lavery ran a 4:19.1; and the 3,200 team of Johnson, Sipes, Jenkins and Francis ran a 10:11.57.
The Saugatuck boys’ team also got wins from Dunn in the 110 hurdles (15.61), Avalos in the shot put (46-06), Cardona in the discus (145-11.5), Evan Hotary in the pole vault (12-0) and the 3,200 relay team of Gorgas, Pettinga, Butch and Carrion (8:17.55).

 

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