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  • Val T.

All-RTC boys track: On a high: Perkins is RTC Boys Track Athlete of the Year

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

At 6-7, Tippecanoe Valley senior Dawson Perkins stands above the crowd – literally.

But after placing seventh in the high jump at the IHSAA state finals for the second

Dawson Perkins

straight year, he stands above everybody else because of his athletic accomplishments, and he is therefore our RTC Boys Track Athlete of the Year.

Perkins has both great hops – he was also the star center on Valley’s boys basketball team – and a dedication to the technical details that separate the great high jumpers from the merely pretty good ones.

He also has great raw speed, and when he’s not high jumping, he’s a member of the Valley 4 x 100 relay team that broke the school record multiple times and missed qualifying for the IHSAA state finals by less than 0.01 seconds.

Perkins is also impervious to the conditions around him. He has jumped 6-7 indoors and then went 6-8 ¼ in damp, drizzly, chilly conditions at the Three Rivers Conference meet at Wabash in May.

Here are the other athletes that joined Perkins on our All-RTC boys track team. We thank those area coaches for sending us stats and filling us in on the top athletes in the area.

Having said that, these choices are ours and ours alone, and we take full responsibility for them. We should also mention that we place emphasis on an athlete’s performance at conference and postseason meets as these meets have the best competition and marginally better weather.

Sprinters

  • Wade Jones (Valley) – Jones had a fantastic football season in the fall as he set the Valley single-season interception record, and he followed it by making the state finals in the 200 meters, which might not even be his best event. Only a sophomore, he’s well on his way to rewriting the Valley record books.

  • Rex Kirchenstien (Valley) – Kirchenstien is so versatile that he could seemingly run any event, but he might have found a home when he outran Zach Pickens in a sensational 400 to win the Plymouth sectional title. He’s headed to IU-East for track in the fall.

  • Zach Pickens (Rochester) – Rochester coach Ryan Helt called Pickens a “beautiful runner,” and things were going beautifully – he ran a 51.57 in the 400 to finish second behind Kirchenstien at the sectional – until he suffered a season-ending hamstring injury on the Monday before regional. Still, he has helped change the perception of Rochester sprinters.

Distance runners

  • R.J. Keranko (Rochester) – Keranko keeps getting faster and faster in the 800 meters – from 2:09.57 at TRC to 2:03.67 to win the sectional to 1:59.26 at the regional. That regional time will make him a state contender in 2023. Keranko also anchored Rochester’s conference and sectional winning 4 x 800 relay team.

  • Kolbey Wegner (Winamac) – Wegner won the Hoosier North titles at 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and he was a regional qualifier in the 3,200, where he broke the 10-minute barrier for the first time. Wegner seemingly picks up speed in the second half of his races while his opponents wilt.

  • Peyton Hiatt (Rochester) – Hiatt has already stood out due to his leadership and versatility – he can run any race from 800 meters on up – and he really stood out for how much faster he got in the 1,600 meters this spring. He went from 4:56 at conference to 4:45 at sectional to 4:39 at regional.

Hurdlers

  • Cristian Cardenas (Winamac) – Cardenas was the only area athlete to make the regionals in a hurdles event, making it to Valparaiso in the 300 hurdles and going under 45 seconds in the process.

  • Kaiden Towell (Rochester) – Towell, a junior, scored points in both the 110 and 300 hurdles at both his conference and sectional meets. He’s the only area athlete who can say he did that.

  • Antonio Schlosser (Rochester) – Schlosser finished the season strong running a 46.56 in the 300 hurdles and taking seventh place at the sectional.

Jumpers/Vaulters

  • Dawson Perkins (Valley) – After clearing 6-6 at the state finals each of the last two years, Perkins will continue his track and academic careers at IU-East in Richmond this fall.

  • Braxton Mencias (Rochester) – Mencias winning the sectional with a long jump of 19-11 ¾ was one of the year’s big upsets. He’s headed to Grace College to continue his track and academic careers in the fall.

  • Dustin Siebert (Rochester) – Siebert’s clutch performance in the pole vault at the conference meet – he won with a clearance of 13-0 – helped Rochester claim the team title.

Throwers

  • Wade Melanson (Valley) – Melanson’s shot put throw of 53-9 ½ at conference was extraordinary given the horrid weather, but he was just getting started. He won the Plymouth sectional for the second straight year, went over 54 feet in finishing third at regional, and he then heaved it 57-4 ½ to finish ninth at state. He also was the TRC discus champ.

  • Marshall Fishback (Rochester) – He was second at the TRC meet behind Melanson in both the discus and shot put, and he and Melanson were the only two area throwers to qualify for regionals in both events. He was 12th in the discus and sixth in the shot put at the regional.

  • Logan Schultz (Winamac) – Winamac had an impressive throwing crew with Beau Brandt, Kyle Olds and Schultz. Schultz was second at conference and third at regional in the shot put. Only Melanson, Fishback and Schultz could say they got off a 45-plus foot shot put throw in a meet this year.

Honorable mention

  • Jackson Baker (Pioneer)

  • Will Biros (Winamac)

  • Carson Meyer (Pioneer)

  • Leighton Dodt (Pioneer)

  • Eric Burke (Valley)

  • Chris Rohr (Rochester)

  • Caleb Petgen (Valley)

  • Cayden Hill (Pioneer)

  • Kyle Olds (Winamac)

  • Jarret Regan (Rochester)

  • John Malchow (Winamac)

  • Dylan Steininger (Rochester)

  • Destin Green (Culver)

  • Layne Backus (Rochester)

  • Garrison Hickle (Caston)

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