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  • Val T.

Keranko, Mencias, 4 x 800 relay win sectional titles, but Zebras settle for 2nd

Kirchenstien, Melanson, Perkins, 4 x 100 relays win titles as Valley finishes 5th


Sports Editor, RTC

PLYMOUTH — The Rochester boys track team had at least one regional qualifier in the long jump, discus, shot put, pole vault, 400 meters, 800 meters, 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters at the Plymouth sectional Thursday.

They also qualified all three relays for the regional. They had sectional champions in the long jump, 800 meters and the 4 x 800 relay.

It still wasn’t enough to break their 17-year sectional drought.

Culver Academy won the title for the second straight year with 123 points. Rochester was second with 115, Tippecanoe Valley was fifth with 75 points, Caston was 10th with eight, and Culver was 11th with six.

Rochester’s R.J. Keranko came away with two sectional titles. He ran the anchor leg on the victorious 4 x 800 relay, which won in 8:30.89 and beat Culver Academy by 0.82 seconds. Peyton Hiatt, Chris Rohr and Dylan Steininger joined Keranko on the relay.

Keranko then won the open 800 in a stride-for-stride showdown in the final meters with rival Cade Jones from Manchester. Jones won the Three Rivers Conference title, and Keranko took second in their showdown 13 days earlier. This time, Keranko won in 2:03.67 to Jones’ 2:03.77.

Keranko also advanced by running on the anchor leg on the 4 x 400 relay team that finished third. That lineup included Zack Pickens, D.J. Basham and Peyton Hiatt. Culver Academy beat the Zebras by 0.04 seconds in that 4 x 400 relay in the battle for second place, a four-point swing in a meet decided by eight points.

The other Rochester sectional champion was Braxton Mencias, who soared 19-11 ¾ for a new personal best to win the long jump. Mencias, a Grace College signee, later thanked assistant coach Karmin Reeves, adding that she is like a second mother to him.

Mencias also advanced as the lead leg of the 4 x 100 relay team. Jarret Regan, Basham and Layne Backus joined him on the team.

Hiatt also advanced in the 1,600 by finishing second behind Culver Academy’s Samuel Tullis. Pickens also advanced by taking second in the 400.

Rohr also advanced with his third-place finish in the 3,200 meters.

Marshall Fishback also advanced in both throwing events. His discus toss of 135-1 was 11 inches behind champion Jordan Ayres of Manchester and good for second place, and his shot put heave of 47-9 was good for third place.

Dustin Siebert added a second-place finish in the pole vault to his TRC title in the event. He cleared 12-0 while Culver Academy’s George Bourdier won with a vault of 14-6.

Valley sectional champions included Rex Kirchenstien in the 400 meters, Wade Melanson in the shot put, Dawson Perkins in the high jump and the 4 x 100 relay team.

The 400 turned into an intense match race between Kirchenstien and Pickens, a competition worthy of any Bell game between Rochester and Valley. Kirchenstien won in a personal best 50.96 seconds before collapsing across the finish line. Pickens was second in 51.31.

Melanson won the shot put title for the second straight year with a throw of 52-5, and he also advanced by taking third in the discus with a throw of 133-4.

Perkins won the high jump sectional title for the second straight year to go with his two straight TRC titles. This time, he was involved in a one-on-one duel with Manchester’s Gabe Case. Perkins cleared 6-3 on his first try while Case failed on all three efforts.

With the win already in hand, Perkins made three efforts at 6-6 but failed. Perkins set the school record of 6-8 ¼ at the TRC meet at Wabash on May 6.

The 4 x 100 team not only won the sectional but broke the school record of 43.50 seconds. Caleb Petgen shot out of the blocks and handed the baton to Perkins, who handed it to Kirchenstien, who handed it to Wade Jones.

Jones tore past Manchester’s Ethan Cummins to win the race by 0.23 seconds while Rochester settled for third.

Jones also advanced by finishing second in both the 100 meters (11.41 seconds) and 200 meters (23.35 seconds) behind Culver Academy’s George Bourdier.

Caston and Culver had no regional qualifiers.

The top individual Caston finisher was senior Garrison Hickle, who was sixth in the discus.

All six of Culver’s points came from their juniors. Destin Green set a fast pace in the 800 meters and eventually finished in fourth in 2:09.59 in a race won by Rochester’s Keranko. Also, Ben Lee took eighth in the shot put.

Rochester’s last team sectional title came in 2005. Prior to that, their last boys track sectional came in 1949.

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