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Saugatuck boys cross places fourth at Holly Invite

Members of the Saugatuck boys cross country team show off their fourth-place trophy. Pictured are (top from left) Loch Rigozzi, Lucus Schoonmaker, Luke Gorgas, (bottom)Russell VandePoel, Sammy Gamboa, Charlie Stormer and Justin Oetman.

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor
HOLLY—Four members of the Saugatuck boys cross country team earned medals at the Holly Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 17, by placing in the top 35.
Those solid individual efforts helped the Trailblazers place fourth in the 19-team field Division 4 race with 128 points.
Leslie took home top honors with 93 points, followed by Dansville with 103 and Bath with 106.
“I’m really happy with how we ran,” Saugatuck coach Rick Bauer said. “We have an extremely young and inexperience team, with two guys who are running in high school for the first time and two others who are running in varsity races for the first time. So, it’s a learning experience each time we race and I think the guys are doing a nice job.”
Senior Charlie Stormer led the way for Saugatuck, placing 13th at 18:13.
“Charlie is still adjusting to being our top runner, which takes a little different mindset than being further back in the pack,” Bauer said. “He woke up on Saturday not feeling very well, but he adjusted his strategy a little bit and really gutted it out for us.”
Junior Russell VandePoel, who also plays soccer, was one spot behind as he placed 14th at 18:18.
“Russ is a kid who is so athletic and hasn’t even scratched the surface of how good he could be,” Bauer said. “Obviously we’re happy to have him in any capacity, but I really believe he could be All-State this year if he really focused on running a little more. But, like I said, we’re just glad to have him.”
Freshman Sammy Gamboa (29th at 18:46) and senior Luke Gorgas (34th at 19:08) were the other Trailblazers who earned medals.
“As a freshman, Sammy came in a little unsure of himself,” Bauer said. “But he’s really starting to see how good he is and how good he could be. He’s running with a lot more confidence, which is great to see.
“And Luke has been sick for a little bit, so we’ve been pretty cautious with his training in order to keep him as fresh as possible. He’s a great leader for us. We just need to get him back to 100 percent so he can really get after it out there.”
Loch Rigozzi (45th at 19:56) was the final scoring runner for the Trailblazers, while Justin Oetman (56th at 20:29) and Luke Schoonmaker (101st at 25:31) also competed.
In the girls race, Saugatuck placed 12th with 301 points.
Maya Veldt led the way at 24:11 (40th), while Leilani Schoonmaker was 68th (27:04), Meryn Curtis was 73rd (27:59), Anna Devisme was 80th (30:13) and Kiran Gahir was 92nd (34:47).
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, Saugatuck participated in the first of three SAC Jamborees. And although they had to compete without VandePoel due to a conflict with soccer, the Trailblazers placed second in the boys race with 108 points, putting them six points behind winner Kalamazoo Christian.
Allegan was 10th with 236 points, while Fennville was 15th with 376 points. Martin didn’t have enough runners to amass a team score.
“I hope this race gave our guys a lot of confidence,” Bauer said. “For us to go out there without Russ and still finish second shows how good we can be.”
Stormer led the way with a seventh-place showing of 17:58. Other scoring runners for the Trailblazers were Gorgas (19th at 19:02), Rigozzi (24th at 19:16), Gamboa (27th at 19:25) and Brennan Nor (34th at 19:46).
Mason Garden paced Fennville by placing 29th at 19:37, while Matthew Lyon led Allegan (39th at 20:06) and Alex Morin led Martin (68th at 21:22).
Saugatuck didn’t figure in the team standings in the girls race, with Allegan and Martin also failing to register enough runners for team points. Fennville was sixth with 164 points.
Veldt (39th at 24:34), Curtis (84th at 28:56) and Devisme (111th at 33:09) represented Saugatuck.
Fennville’s Nidia Martinez was 11th at 22:22 and Allegan’s Sabrina Mills was close behind with a 13th-place finish of 22:25. Noa Martin-Espinosa led Martin (53rd at 25:20.)

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