Throwing his opponents a curve: Valley’s Jones is RTC Boys Track Athlete of Year
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The 200 meters in track is a race that requires explosive speed and explosive power.
It is the ideal race for Tippecanoe Valley junior Wade Jones.
The regional champion in the event and one of the best sprinters we have seen in the area in the last 20 years, Jones is our RTC Boys Track Athlete of the Year.
Jones was not the favorite when he traveled to Warsaw for the regional on May 25. In fact, he was the No. 6 seed after running a 22.94 at the sectional the previous week.
This time, he ran a 22.07 and won by 0.17 seconds, a fairly sizable win in what is usually a very competitive race.
Jones, who also made state in the 200 in 2022, is the headliner for our All-RTC boys track team. What follows is the rest of our team.
We would like to thank area coaches for providing us with results and their insights, and we were proud to cover our first high school track meet on RTCTV4 this April.
We want to note that we emphasize conference meets and meets during the state tournament series over weekday dual meets. This list is ours and ours alone and a compilation of both the results that we receive and our eyewitness accounts of what we saw in person.
Sprinters (100 m-400 m)
Wade Jones (Tippecanoe Valley) – Jones also was a regional qualifier in the 100 and a big part of Valley’s regional-qualifying 4 x 100 relay team. He’s also a big part of Valley’s 4 x 400 relay team.
Rylahn Toloza (Pioneer) – Toloza was back healthy after an injury-plagued sophomore season in 2022, and he flourished, qualifying for the regional in the 100 after winning the Hoosier North title in the event. He has run under 11.2 seconds in the 100, and he’s also an outstanding long jumper.
Nate Parker (Tippecanoe Valley) – The name Parker at Valley is synonymous with 400-meter success, and Nate was no different, running a 53.25 at sectional and qualifying for the regional.
Distance runners (800 m-3,200 m)
R.J. Keranko (Rochester) – Keranko won the Plymouth sectional in 2:02.18, an excellent time for mere mortals. But would he be able to attend to a much faster pace at the Warsaw regional the following week? Indeed he did, running a 1:58.86 and finishing third to advance to state. Then he got even faster at state, running a 1:57.91 and finishing 19th.
Leighton Dodt (Pioneer) – Fewer athletes than you might think do both the 1,600 and the 3,200, but Dodt does, and he was the conference champion and a regional qualifier in both events. And on top of that, he anchors Pioneer’s school record-holding 4 x 800 relay team. He’s gone under 4:40 in the 1,600 and he was right at 10:00 in the 3,200 at the sectional. He just finished his sophomore year.
Destin Green (Culver) – Green running a 4:37 in the 1,600 at the Plymouth sectional was a shocker as it was 22 seconds faster than his conference time one week earlier, and it came against a loaded field. He was a one-man distance crew who gained great respect from his competitors.
Brady Evans (Caston) – Evans had something of a fairytale run in the 300 hurdles at the Plymouth sectional, beating an athlete from Manchester by 0.02 seconds for the final regional spot and capping an inspiring recovery from a torn ACL suffered during the 2021-22 basketball season.
Kaiden Towell (Rochester) – Towell has broken 45 seconds in the 300 hurdles, and he also has been a strong 110-meter hurdler over his career, running a 17.59 at the conference meet.
Harrison Dunwoody (Rochester) – While Towell has been consistent over his career, it was the freshman Dunwoody who came on at the end of the season, running a 17.90 in the 110 hurdles and finishing sixth at the Plymouth sectional.
Eric Burke (Tippecanoe Valley) – Dawson Perkins graduated, but that did not mean Valley was not strong in the high jump. Burke was a consistent six-foot performer and a regional qualifier.
Austin Brooke (Pioneer) – Brooke was Pioneer’s best hurdler, but he also cleared 5-8 in the high jump and took third at conference.
Isaac Nicoll (Pioneer) – The best pole vaulter in our area was Nicoll, who cleared 10-0.
Dalton Alber (Tippecanoe Valley) – Another protege of throwing coach Rick Shepherd, Alber won the TRC meet in the shot put with a throw of 45-6 and was second at the sectional with a throw of 44-10. Alber is only a junior, and we are curious to see how much stronger he gets with another year of training.
Devin Burkett (Culver) – Burkett, a senior, was a wonderful surprise, finishing third at the sectional in the shot put and advancing to the regional. He threw over 46 feet at the conference meet.
Ben Lee (Culver) – Like Burkett, Lee was a senior who excelled both on the line of scrimmage in football and as a shot putter at Culver. His PR of 44-6 set him apart from other similar throwers in our area.
Jackson Baker (Pioneer)
Chris Rohr (Rochester)
Carson Meyer (Pioneer)
Austin Dague (Caston)
Xavier Vance (Rochester)
Ian Kitchell (Pioneer)
Landon Kuykendoll (Culver)
Cody Black (Tippecanoe Valley)
Grant Bailey (Rochester)
Wes Steininger (Rochester)
Cameron Mason (Tippecanoe Valley)
Reece Johnson (Rochester)
Brason Smith (Tippecanoe Valley)
Trevor Walley (Rochester)
Kevin Gluth (Pioneer)