A member of the shot put fraternity, Melanson breathes deep, makes state
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
How consistently good was Tippecanoe Valley senior Wade Melanson at the shot put at the Goshen regional on May 26?
His second-best throw would have been good enough to get him to state. His third-best throw would have been good enough also.
In the end, his best throw of the meet went 54-0 ½ that earned him a spot at the IHSAA state finals at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex in Bloomington on Saturday.
“Amazing,” Melanson said. “Hard work and dedication always pays off.”
The meet will start at 3 p.m., and the first throws in the shot put should begin around 3:30 p.m.
Melanson was 11th at the sectional as a freshman in 2019. He lost his 2020 season to the pandemic.
He was second behind Rochester’s Marshall Fishback at the 2021 Three Rivers Conference meet with a throw of 47-9 but then came back to top Fishback and win the sectional.
This year, Melanson persevered through rainy conditions to win the shot put with a throw of 53-9 ½ at the Three Rivers Conference meet at Wabash on May 6. (Melanson also won the TRC discus title with a throw of 127-5.)
In that meet, his throws went so far that they often landed in a grassy area beyond the pit.
He then won his second consecutive sectional title with a throw of 52-5 at Plymouth on May 19.
Then came Goshen. Melanson had finished 14th with a throw of 44-5 ½ at the 2021 regional at Kokomo.
“A year ago, I wasn’t very good for myself,” Melanson said. “I didn’t compete as well as I should have. This year, I came out and competed. … When I did a 54, I was pumped.”
Melanson was asked about managing the adrenaline rush in a big meet where every inch matters. Is it like an out-of-body experience?
Actually, Melanson said he watched videos of Ryan Crouser, the American world record holder who has won the last two Olympic gold medals, for guidance.
“He said, ‘Just relax and all the big throws will come,’” Melanson said. “No matter when it is. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. So it happened, and I was happy about it.”
Melanson also praised coach Rick Shepherd, who monitors Melanson’s form for any flaws.
“He’s a great coach,” Melanson said. “I really enjoy having him as a coach.”
While Melanson values being calm during meets, he also projects congeniality to his fellow competitors.
After the regional, Melanson was spotted taking photos with NorthWood’s Brevin Miller, who won the regional with a throw of 54-11 ½, and Warsaw’s Noah Chew, who took fourth. He also made a fast friend in Elkhart’s Ty’Shaun Williams, who took second with a throw of 54-6 1/2
He once called his relationship with Fishback a “sibling rivalry.”
An Indiana Wesleyan football recruit, Melanson compared the relationships he has made in track to those he has made in his other sport.
“Throwers love throwers,” Melanson said. “Big men love big men. It’s like football. Linemen love linemen. It’s a great atmosphere to be around all the kids.”
Melanson will be the No. 20 seed out of 27 throwers at state. Columbus North’s Tucker Smith is the top seed at 67-11.
Melanson said his next aim is the Valley school record held by James Hall. Hall’s record has stood since 1995. Ironically, Hall was a high school football teammate of Stephen Moriarty, who was Melanson’s football coach at Valley over the last four years.
“PR (personal record), school record,” Melanson said when asked what his goals will be at state. “I’m not really going to compete for a title, so just go out there and have fun. Enjoy the moment. Soak it in and watch some of the big guys throw and have a great time.”
Tippecanoe Valley boys track state qualifiers, from left, Wade Jones, Wade Melanson, Dawson Perkins