Indians post runner-up showing at D4 state finals
If the Saugatuck boys’ cross country team was going to repeat as Division 4 state champs, then it would have to do it without its top runner, senior Jacob Pettinga.
And the Indians nearly did just that at the Saturday, Nov. 1, meet.
In the end, though, Saugatuck came up four points short of its goal, finishing with 109 points to place second behind surprise winner Beal City on a cold and windy day at Michigan International Speedway.
Pettinga was reduced to the role of spectator with a stress fracture in his foot.
“For our guys to finish runner-up without their number one and the team leader meant a lot,” Saugatuck coach Rick Bauer said. “They had to battle a lot of adversity and a lot of emotions. And they nearly pulled it off and for that I am extremely proud of them and their effort.”
Without Pettinga, Bauer knew his team’s path to a second straight championship was much more difficult. But he thought it would be Concord—which had beaten the Indians at the Portage Invitational earlier this season and boasted the top Division 4 runner in Jesse Hersha—and not Beal City that would pose the biggest challenge.
But Concord finished fourth (123 points), two points behind third-place Bear Lake-Onekama.
“I’m shocked Concord finished fourth and that Beal City won,” Bauer said. “We had a few talked about teams to look out for and Beal City was on there. I told the guys they have a very good one-two and we needed to match them but our depth was likely too much for them.
“As it turned out, their one-two really got it done and gave them enough to overcome our depth. We had four in front of their (top) three, but their five was a bit better than ours on Saturday. I misjudged their fifth man.”
Still, the runner-up finish with Pettinga on the sidelines was far from a disappointment.
“If I take a step back and look at it objectively it is really remarkable where this program has gotten,” Bauer said.
For full story, pick up a copy of the November 6 issue of The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.