Gorgas’ dual wins lead Saugatuck to fourth-place finish at D3 state finals
By Jason Wesseldyk
COMSTOCK PARK—It’s been said that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
That certainly was the case for Saugatuck junior Corey Gorgas when it came to the track season.
After battling through illness and injury before and during much of the season, Gorgas finished the 2018 campaign as a dual state champion, winning both the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200 at the Division 3 state finals on Saturday, June 2.
“This was the culmination of a frustrating year for me,” Gorgas said.
The 20 points earned by Gorgas helped the Indians place fourth in the team standings with 30 points, putting Saugatuck just two points behind third-place finisher Kent City. Clare won the state title with 44 points, while Berrien Springs was second with 42 points.
“This was about as good as we could have hoped for,” Saugatuck coach Rick Bauer said of his team’s finish. “The fact is that Division 3 is just so much more competitive than Division 4. There is no room for error.”
Gorgas didn’t need any room for error, as he ran a pair of near-perfect races.
In the 1,600, Gorgas finished with a time of four minutes, 15.74 seconds. That represented a personal record by six seconds and put him more than two seconds ahead of runner-up Jeremy Kloss of Harbor Springs.
Then came the 3,200, where Gorgas posted a time of 9:17.32 to give him the win by more than three seconds over Kent City’s Fraser Wilson.
“Coming away with the win in the 1,600 meant a lot to me,” Gorgas said. “This is my first individual state championship and I won it running a six-second personal record. It couldn’t have gone better for me.
“To come away with the 3,200 as well makes it that much better. It’s great to see (all the hard work) pay off.”
Bauer couldn’t say enough about Gorgas’ performance.
“He’s so mature,” Bauer said of his star distance runner. “He had a plan and stuck to it. Many kids his age would have a difficult time being as patient as he was in both races.”
Bauer was particularly impressed with Gorgas’ effort in the 1,600 given the level of competition he faced in that race.
“The 1,600 was the race we felt would be most difficult to win,” Bauer said. “It had all the top distance guys in the division in it and a few of them were coming in fresh. We knew the 3200 would be a bit less competitive as many of the top kids opted to do the 800. I think that Corey played into their decision to run the 800 and not the 3,200. The 800 looked like it would be an easier event to win.
“Corey ran so smart. He ran to win. In the 1,600 he ran a six-second PR and it looked easy. In the 3,200, he did just enough to win and still came close to his PR.”
While Gorgas played the role of leading man for Saugatuck, classmate Brad Dunn shined in a supporting role.
After finishing third for six points in the 110 hurdles with a time of 14.76, Dunn turned in a time of 40.34 in the 300 hurdles for another four points.
“Brad grew up a ton today,” Bauer said. “He likes the 110s but does not care for the 300s. Until today, we have never seen Brad really run them. We talked after the 110s and he was disappointed to get third. The message to him we that for our team to do well he had to run those 300s all out and leave it all on the track.
“Normally he gives me a look like, ‘No chance. Those things hurt.’ This time, he ran a two-second PR and placed fifth. I thought all year long he could place in those if he would commit to running all eight flights of hurdles. I’m so happy for him.”
And the best is likely still to come for Dunn.
“We talked after the meet about how next year he is the man and that he can go after both the 110s and the 300s,” Bauer said. “He’s going to be dangerous from here on out because now he believes he can.”
On the girls’ side, Saugatuck tied for 20ths place with 11 points. St. Charles and Hart tied for the top spot with 46 points.
Thea Johnson had the best individual showing for the Saugatuck girls, placing fifth in the 800 with a time of 2:15.71.
Johnson was also ran the lead leg of the 4×800 relay team that placed fifth at 9:37.04. Taylor Conner, Natalie Martinson and Lily Francis followed Johnson.
Other scoring efforts for the Indians came from Martinson in the 3,200 (seventh at 11:22.93) and the 4×400 relay team of Jillian Johnson, Kierstyn Stoin, Thea Johnson and Francis (eighth at 4:12.22).