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Saugatuck cross country teams continue league dominance

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By Jason Wesseldyk

Sports Editor

GOBLES—The Saugatuck girls’ cross country team entered the SAC Final Meet at Gobles on Thursday, Oct. 10, as the winners of 12 straight league championships.

Extending that streak would be no easy task.

During the SAC jamboree on Sept. 25, the Indians finished runner-up behind Kalamazoo Christian, marking the first time they’d failed to win a SAC jamboree in a dozen years.

“They girls definitely entered this meet in a position they have not been in for nearly 13 years,” Saugatuck coach Rick Bauer said. “They were the underdogs.”

But the Indians proved they are still the team to beat in the SAC, as they placed all five of their scoring runners in the top 11 to finish with a winning score of 31.

Kalamazoo Christian was second with 63 points, followed closely by Galesburg-Augusta in third with 67 points.

The Saugatuck boys also won their race with a 26-point effort, pushing their string of consecutive conference championships to eight straight.

“It was a good day for our program,” Bauer said.

The girls’ race saw a pair of Galesburg-Augusta runners take the top two spots, but Saugatuck took third and fourth with Jillian Vera (20:50) and Sophie McQueary (21:07).

Jillian Johnson (seventh at 21:25) and Kyrah Rodriguez (ninth at 21:41) joined Vera and McQueary in the top 10. Hannah Smit rounded out Saugatuck’s scoring runners by placing 11th at 21:49.

“Tonight the girls responded in a big way,” Bauer said. “They dominated the competition.”

Ainsley Lowery (34th at 23:47) and Bailey Winsemius (39th at 24:30) also competed for Saugatuck.

Julie Mendoza paced the Fennville girls with her 18th-place showing of 22:17. Teammates Angelica Mendoza and Ally Miscikoski placed 33rd (23:38) and 69th (32:29) respectively.

As dominant as the Saugatuck girls were, the Saugatuck boys were even more so.

The Indians placed its five scoring runners in the top 10, with all seven of its varsity runners placing in the top 17.

Nik Pettinga won the conference title with his time of 16:44, followed closely by teammate Max Sharnas in the runner-up slot at 16:41.

Tristan Ashley (sixth at 17:33), Luke Gorgas (eighth at 17:48), Adam Martinson (ninth at 17:49), Winston Marcy (15th at 18:19) and Conner Seifert (17th at 18:25) were the other Saugatuck runners.

JJ VanderKuyl (68th at 22:14) and Nathan Griffin (70th at 23:20) represented Fennville.