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  • Val T.

Rochester poised to repeat as TRC girls track champions

Boys trail by Manchester by 11 points, but long jump, pole vault loom


Sports Editor, RTC

WABASH — Dawson Perkins brushed the bar with his hips. The bar wobbled but did not drop.

A record had been set.

A cheer emanated from the high jump pit at the far end and wafted over the rest of the track.

Perkins, a senior at Tippecanoe Valley, broke the 42-year–old school record and the Three Rivers Conference record in the high jump at the Three Rivers Conference meet at Wabash High School Friday after clearing 6-8 ¼.

But on a night that featured some extraordinary performances from Valley athletes, it’s rival Rochester that would appear to be in line for a repeat girls conference title and have a chance for a boys title as well.

Rochester currently leads the girls meet with 133 points. They are currently second in the boys meet with 108 points, 11 fewer than Manchester.

Both the Valley girls and boys are in third place heading into Wednesday.

The meet will finish at Wabash on Wednesday with the long jump and pole vault. RTC was informed that those events were postponed due to safety issues given the wet, chilly weather. It’s unclear why those events were postponed and not others.

Temperatures Friday were in the low 50s with brisk winds and a near-constant drizzle. Forecasted temperatures for Wednesday are in the mid-80s with sunshine. The conclusion to the TRC meet will be held in conjunction with the Wabash County Meet, which was already scheduled for Wabash on Wednesday.

The Manchester boys have 119 points going into Wednesday while Rochester has 108. At the 2021 TRC meet, Rochester scored 15 points combined in the long jump and pole vault while Manchester scored zero.

Rochester had no individual conference champions in the boys meet, but they did have a champion in the 4 x 800 relay. That team consisted of Peyton Hiatt, Chris Rohr, Dylan Steininger and R.J. Keranko.

Keranko ran a 2:01 split to pull away after being side-by-side with a runner from Manchester upon accepting the baton.

But Rochester had top three finishers in the 400 (Zack Pickens), 800 (Keranko), 1,600 (Keranko and Hiatt), 3,200 (Chris Rohr), discus (Marshall Fishback) and shot put (Marshall Fishback), and they frequently had multiple point scorers in every event.

Valley sophomore Wade Jones was the meet’s fastest boy. He won both the open 100 meters and ran the anchor leg on Valley’s victorious 4 x 100 relay. Caleb Petgen, Perkins and Rex Kirchenstien ran the first three legs of the relay.

The other individual champion was Melanson, who won the discus with a throw of 127 feet and then dazzled with a throw of 53-9 to also break the TRC record.

Wiping his feet on a towel to help his footing in the circle, Melanson, an Indiana Wesleyan football recruit, had multiple shot put throws that were so long that they went beyond the pit and into a patch of grass behind the pit. The distance of 53-9 is over seven feet farther than Melanson’s winning distance at the 2021 Plymouth sectional and over 11 inches farther than Western’s Daniel Marley’s winning throw at the 2021 Kokomo regional.

In the girls meet, Rochester had five individual champions: Kennedy Jackson in the shot put, Macie Nelson in the 100 hurdles, Madilyn Calloway in the 1,600, Kenzie Bradley in the 200 and Zoe Seward in the 3,200.

Jackson needed a heave of 36-1 in her final throw to beat a competitor from Whitko. She also later finished third in the discus.

Nelson used a strong second half of the race to eke out a win in a personal best 17.62 seconds.

Calloway won a second straight conference title in the 1,600, and she was also second in the 800 and second as part of the Lady Zs’ 4 x 400 and 4 x 800 relays.

Bradley was involved in a photo finish with Peru’s Cadence Korba in the 200 meters that forced the on-site camera operator to review the tape. In the end, Bradley leaned at the line to win in a personal-best 27.76 seconds.

Bradley also took second in the 100 behind Manchester’s Olivia Auler.

Running consistent 85-second laps, Seward built an early, insurmountable lead in the 3,200 and won that race in 11:46. Her time was 35 seconds faster than her winning time last year.

Rochester also claimed the 4 x 100 title, and it’s believed to be the first time in at least 15 years that Rochester has won this race. The team consisted of Bradley, Savanah Eccles, Kasey Gray and Kami Burkett.

Burkett held off a challenge from a team from Manchester on the final leg. Burkett wore a brace on her injured left knee. She suffered a torn ACL in that knee in a basketball game against Tippecanoe Valley Jan. 15 and will have the injury surgically repaired after track season.

Burkett’s anchor leg came after three event-free baton passes in wet, windy conditions.

Valley individual champions in the girls meet included Chesnee Miller in the 800 and Chloe Shepherd in the discus.

Miller stayed a short distance behind Rochester’s Calloway, the 2021 TRC 800 champ, for 550 meters before moving in front of her and winning by 20 meters.

Shepherd, a senior, had finished fifth at last year’s TRC meet in the discus.

Zoe Seward R.J. Keranko

Dawson Perkins Chesnee Miller

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