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Class 5A state track champions Jackson Esquibel of Shawnee Heights and Aaron Merritt of Seaman were selected as the Topeka Shawnee County Co-Spring Male Athletes of the Year Wedneday night at Washburn University.

JacksonEsquibelSTATETRACK1600Shawnee Heights product Jackson Esquibel (left) was named the Co-Shawnee County Spring Male Athlete of the Year Wednesday night. [File photo/TSN]

AaronMerrittSTATESTRACKJesse 1Recent Seaman graduate Aaron Merritt (middle) won the Class 5A 100-meter and 110 hurdles championships as a senior. [Photo by Jesse Bruner/Special to TSN]

As a senior Esquibel won his second straight 5A 3,200 meters state championship after winning the 5A state cross country title last fall. Esquibel set school records in the 3,200 (9 minutes, 13.85 seconds), 1,600 (4:15.26) and 800 (1:56.43). Esquibel finished second in the 5A 1,600 meters as both a junior and senior.

"Jackson has been a leader in both sports, always being a great mentor and teammate,'' Shawnee Heights track and cross country coach John Oshel said.

Esquibel will compete collegiately in cross country and track at Kansas State. As a junior Esquibel was selected as the male Rising Star of the Year for Shawnee County.

Esquibel, the son of Scott and Amy Esquibel, carried a 3.96 grade point average at Shawnee Heights.

Merritt was a double 5A gold medalist in track and field as a senior, winning the 110-meter hurdles and the 100-meter dash. Merritt also anchored the Vikings' 4x100 relay to a second-place finish at state.

"Aaron is very dependable, talented, and has an incredible work ethic,'' Seaman track coach Scott Petersen said. "He has been fantastic to coach and deserves all the success he earned this spring.  As great of an athlete as he is, with all of his accolades, he’s an even better person.''

Merritt's winning times in the 110 hurdles and 100 dash in the state meet were the fastest in all classes.

The ton of Toby and Robin Merritt, Aaron compiled a 3.6 grade point average in high school.


DylanDodgeTSCOmug 1Dylan Dodge

DYLAN DODGE | Washburn Rural

PARENTS: Brian and Jennier Dodge

SPORT: Tennis | GPA: 3.877

Dodge was the city champion in No. 1 singles as Washburn Rural captured the team championship and also posted a runnerup finish in singles in Class 6A regional competition to earn a state berth and lead the Junior Blues to the regional team title. Dodge was a two-time All-City honoree and finished his senior season with a 24-9 record. "Great leader on and off the court,'' Washburn Rural coach Brad Johnston said. "Puts his teammates first and team first and always puts in the extra time when needed. He is excellent in the classroom as well. He is the true form of student first, athlete second.'' Dodge will attend Ottawa University in Arizona. 

FinnDunsheeTSCOmug 1Finn Dunshee


PARENTS: Carlyle and Kathleen Dunshee

SPORT: Track and field | GPA: 4.306

Dunshee was a three-time state track gold medalist as both a junior and senior and finished his career with four Hayden school records. As a senior Dunshee was the Class 3A 100 and 200-meter state champion and also ran on the Wildcats' winning 4x400 relay and second-place 4x100 relay as Hayden finished second as a team. "Finn has not only soared to the heights of becoming a state champion, but has also played a significant role in shaping the dynamic of our team,'' Hayden coach DeJuan Gardenhire said. "Finn's relentless pursuit of greatness has set the standard for our team, motivating our team to push past our limits both on and off the track.'' Dunshee was also a Shrine Bowl pick in football after helping lead the Wildcats to a runnerup finish in 3A.

JamesMaagTSCOmug 1James Maag

JAMES MAAG | Topeka West

PARENTS: Jared Maag and Melissa Wangemann

SPORT: Tennis | GPA: NA

Maag was a four-time Class 5A state qualifier for Topeka West, earning a pair of state medals and helping the Chargers win the state team championship as a junior. Maag finished ninth at state in singles as a senior after an 11th-place singles finish as a junior. Maag surpassed the 100-victory mark in his high school career and helped the Chargers win back-to-back United Kansas Conference team championships. Maag earned All-City recognition as both a junior and senior and won the UKC singles title as a senior while also finishing third in the city and regional tournaments.

NatePlankintonTSCOmug 1Nate Plankinton


PARENTS: Kirby and Jessica Plankinton

SPORT: Baseball | GPA: 4.1

Plankinton helped lead Topeka High to back-to-back Class 6A state tournament berths as both a junior and senior, with the Trojans ending a state drought of more than seven decades. Plankinton posted a 10-0 pitching record with an 0.13 earned run average, 82 strikeouts in 54 innings and also batted .345 with nine doubles. "Nate has been an instrumental part of the Topeka High baseball program over his four years and served as our team captain as a senior,'' Trojan coach Cody Miller said. Plankinton was an All-Centennial League and All-Shawnee County first-team pick as a junior and senior and was named the co-player of the year as a senior in the league and county. Plankinton plans to play college baseball at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

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