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Saugatuck boys prevail at regionals

By Jason Wesseldyk
Sports Editor
MONTAGUE— Saugatuck boys track coach Rick Bauer felt sick to his stomach during the Division 3 regional meet in Montague on Saturday, May 21.
And it had nothing to do with his team’s performance.
“For me personally, it was a miserable day,” Bauer said. “I had a stomach bug and if I wasn’t down on the track, I was in the bathroom. I could have stayed home, but I knew I would have been even more miserable not knowing what was going on. At least this way, I was distracted a little bit when the events were taking place.”
Bauer’s team did their best to make him feel better, as they easily won the regional championship with 130.5 points.
Grand Rapids Covenant Christian was second with 75.5 points, followed by Montague with 72.5 points. Fennville placed 13th with 13 points.
The Saugatuck girls tied for fourth with 59 points, finishing behind Montague (124.5), Grand Rapids West Catholic (103) and Kent City (85.5). Fennville was 11th with 16 points.
“Overall, the meet went largely the way I expected it to on the boys side,” Bauer said. “There are always some surprises. For instance, I thought Calvin Christian would be our closest competitor, but it ended up being Covenant Christian and Montague. Overall, though, the boys went out and did what I knew they could do.”
A total of eight Saugatuck athletes qualified for the Division 3 State Finals in Kent City on Saturday, June 4, either by placing in the top two of an event or by meeting certain pre-determined cutoff criteria.
Benny Diaz led that charge by winning all four of his events: the 100-meter dash (11.23); the 200 (22.88); the 110 hurdles (14.31); and the 300 hurdles (39.75).
“Benny was Benny,” Bauer said. “He did hurt his ankle a little in the 300 hurdles. He hit the first hurdle and he looked really surprised, because he never does that. But he still had more than enough to collect himself and win the event.”
Adam Martinson joined Diaz as a multi-event winning. In addition to taking the top spot in the 1,600 at 4:30.77, he also won the 3,200 at 9:46.34.
Teammate Tristan Ashley also qualified for the finals in the 3,200, as he placed third at 9:50.82.
“Adam was amazing,” Bauer said. “He went out hard in the 1,600 and he still looked great in the 3,200. He said he was feeling it after the 3,200, but you couldn’t tell it by watching him run.
“He ran a very smart 3,200. He let Tristan set the pace for the first six laps before starting to push it a little more. He and Tristan both turned in great performances.”
Luke Gorgas accounted for the other individual-event win for Saugatuck, as he took first in the pole vault by clearing a height of 13-feet, one-inch.
“I was so happy for Luke,” Bauer said. “He’s fought through a bunch of injuries this season and even before that, so for him to win a regional title was really cool to see. His back was hurting a little and, after knowing he’d already qualified (for the finals), he was thinking about stopping there. But he decided to keep going and was able to win the regional championship.”
Max Sharnas and Kurtis Bronz each finished second in an event, Sharnas in the 800 (a personal-record 2:02.4) and Bronz in the 200 (23.55).
“Before this season, Max didn’t think he’d be able to compete at all because of an injury, so for him to qualify was great,” Bauer said. “His senior season hasn’t gone the way he thought it would, but he has kept fighting and now he’ll get to compete at the state finals.”
Sharnas was also part of Saugatuck’s 4×400 relay team that placed second at 3:33.61. Sharnas ran the lead leg, followed by Nicola Leoni, John Roberts and Gorgas.
“Nicola is an exchange student from Italy and it’s been great having the opportunity to work with him this year,” Bauer said. “And John is a senior who is competing in track for the first time. Watching him improve throughout the season has been a lot of fun.”
The Saugatuck girls are sending four athletes to the state finals, as the 4×100 relay team of Aerin Baker, Gwen Njike Agokeng, Catherine Pond and Mazie Robison placed second at 53.4.
“This has been a rebuilding year of sorts for the girls team, but they still went out there and placed fourth in a Division 3 regional,” Bauer said. “If we had been Division 4 like we are some years, they likely would have done even better.”
In addition to being part of the 4×100 relay team, Robison also won the 100 hurdles (16.52) and placed second in the 300 hurdles (49.7).
“It’s kind of funny, because at the start of the season Mazie insisted she was a sprinter and not a hurdler,” Bauer said. “She would work on the hurdles, but her heart really wasn’t in it.
“But one of her big goals was to qualify for the state meet as a freshman. Well, two of the two runners in the state in those events happened to be in our regional. So, I told her if she really wanted to compete at state, then the hurdles would give her a better chance. Eventually she started to warm up to the idea.”
Pond put together a qualifying effort in the pole vault, clearing a height of 8-9 to place third.
Carmen Tencate will represent Fennville at the state finals after winning the long jump at 16-10.

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