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6-9 Saug PV Hotary 4x-crBy Jason Wesseldyk

Sports Editor

BOYS

2016 results: North champions, overall SAC champions, regional champion, MITCA Team State Meet champions, Division 4 state champion

Coach: Rick Bauer (11th season)

Returning letter winners: Zach Pettinga (distance), sr.; Orlando Carrion (distance), sr.; Xavier Cardona (throws), sr.; Brad Dunn (hurdles, relays, long jump), soph.; Corey Gorgas (distance), soph.; Evan Hotary (pole vault), sr.; Dylan Avalos (sprints), soph.; Cole Hartman (throws, relays), sr.

Season outlook: Winning championships has become a way of life in Saugatuck.

Not only did the Indians win divisional, conference, regional and MITCA Team State Meet titles last season, but they also secured the MHSAA Division 4 title for the second straight season and the third time in four years.

Saugatuck coach Rick Bauer hopes to see those winning ways continue in the 2017 campaign.

“We hope to be competitive at the conference, regional and state levels,” he said.

Making the Indians’ quest for a third straight state championship all the more difficult is a move from Division 4 to Division 3.

“Even with the move, we hope to be among the top teams in the state,” Bauer said.

But moving up a division isn’t the only challenge facing Saugatuck.

The Indians will also be forced to compete without top scorer and defending state-champion hurdler Blake Dunn.

A senior, Dunn was injured in practice and will miss the entire season.

“Our biggest concern is filling holes due to injuries,” Bauer said. “Keeping positive when things don’t go our way and staying focused on the process is key.”

On the positive side, Bauer finds himself with plenty of options in most events.

“We have 52 boys out this year for the team, by far our largest and with that we have great depth,” he said. “We are strong in a lot of places and should send a lot of people to state finals.”

Senior Zach Pettinga and freshman Corey Gorgas lead a distance crew that is expected to provide plenty of points for Saugatuck, while seniors Xavier Cardona (throws), Evan Hotary (pole vault) and Cole Hartman (throws and relays) were all All-State last season.

“We are always strong in the distances, but we have improved in throws, vault and hurdles this year,” Bauer said.

 

GIRLS

2016 results: SAC champions, regional champions, MITCA Team State champions

Coach: Angelina Bauer

Returning letter winners: Sydnie Avery (pole vault), sr.; Kalie Lavery (relays, sprints, mid-distance), sr.; Paisley Sipes (distance, mid-distance), jr..; Hannah Howard (sprints), jr.; Thea Johnson (mid-distance, distance), soph.; Lily Francis (sprints, hurdles), soph.; Kierstyn Stoin (sprints), soph.; Megan Jenkins (mid-distance, distance), soph.; Rose O’Brien (mid-distance, distance), soph.

Season outlook: Success has become a hallmark of the Saugatuck track program.

Last season was no different.

The Indians won conference, regional and MITCA Team State championship, while turning in All-State performances in several events at the Division 4 state finals.

With nine key contributors back from that team as well as a group of talented newcomers, Saugatuck coach Angelina Bauer sees no reason why that run of success shouldn’t continue.

“We have lots of returners who are veterans of the state finals,” she said. “We also have lots of fresh new faces to shake things up.  The veterans are doing a great job of passing on the traditions and expectations of our program.”

Senior Sydnie Avery is among those veterans. As a junior, she won the Division 4 state title in the pole vault.

Other returning All-State performers include senior Kalie Lavery, juniors Paisley Sipes and Hannah Howard and sophomores Thea Johnson, Lily Francis, Kierstyn Stoin, Megan Jenkins and Rose O’Brien.

“We have a great group and cannot wait to see how the season unfolds,” Bauer said. “The girls are pretty pumped about the season.”

One difference between this season and past seasons is that Saugatuck will be moving up to Division 3 from Division 4.

“We’re ready,” Bauer said about the move. “We have known about it for quite some time and the girls are up for the new challenge.  They do not seem daunted, but rather are excited about the competition.”