Okemos skier becomes first female state champion in Mid-Michigan

Sarra Guggemos won the slalom and placed 8th in giant slalom.
Local skier wins state championship
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 6:28 PM EST
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OKEMOS, Mich. (WILX) - In theory, every athlete at every high school has a shot at winning a state championship in their sport. In reality, there haven’t been too many alpine skiing state champions from mid-Michigan - but that changed this year.

Ski racing is different than most sports. It’s completely individual. Your speed, your skills, and your mentality all come together for just two runs on a course, so it takes dedication to be one of the best.

“I always had a sense of adventure and I loved being out on the slopes from a really young age,” Sarra Guggemos said.

Guggemos began racing at eight years old. Her high school coach remembers meeting her as a seventh-grader when she asked to forerun for a high school race. He knew then that she’d be special.

“She may have beaten most every girl, all the high schoolers... and really made a mark,” Okemos Head Coach Jeff David said. “Then, she did the same thing as an eighth-grader as a forerunner, and that year she definitely beat everybody.”

They say in life if you fail, get up and try again - and that now comes full circle. Guggemos qualified for the state finals all four years but fell her first three years in slalom. This year as a senior, she’s a state champion.

“I was shocked honestly. I went into it and I knew I had a chance but I honestly didn’t think I would win. My mom was crying we were all just super excited,” Guggemos said. “That has been the goal from day one. To finally achieve that, it was a great feeling.”

To top that, Okemos is the only Mid-Michigan high school to even have a ski team. That’s because getting reps on a hill is not easy - there aren’t a lot of ski hills or competition nearby. They have to travel far and face talented teams from Grand Rapids, Marquette, and Traverse City in order to get to the states.

“As soon as senior year got closer and closer, it kind of kept getting farther and farther out of reach and I thought you know it probably won’t happen, but at least I’m doing my best and having fun with it,” Guggemos said.

“When you’re focused and you have that work ethic, I think there’s a really good possibility that you can achieve your goals. She has a really strong determination and that’s what I’ve been able to see over these four years,” David said. “She put all that stuff together. It’s a real pleasure and privilege to have been a part of that.”

“For it to finally happen, I was really proud of myself,” Guggemos said. “I did something and it’s going to go down.”

Down in the record books - Guggemos is not just the only female from Okemos to win, but the only female racer from a mid-Michigan high school to do it. This season she also placed eighth in giant slalom at the state finals, won the slalom at the Divisional meet, placed second in slalom at the MHSAA Division 1 Regional meet, and won the slalom at the Southeast Michigan Ski League Championships.

Guggemos is not just successful in skiing, but she’s also a four-year varsity soccer player at Okemos and plans to play at Hope College this fall.

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