Junior Owen Perkins C-T Athlete Of The Year
By CHUCK LANDIS – email@example.com
Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, it has been said, and Owen Perkins certainly fits the larger end of the spectrum.
Standing about 6 feet, 3 inches and weighing in around 275 pounds, Perkins doesn’t fit a Madison Avenue advertising executive’s model of the svelte, chiseled athlete. Yet, that person wouldn’t stand a chance against Perkins on a wrestling mat or in the football trenches.
Perkins achieved the highest level of success for the Oak Hill football and wrestling teams and contributed to a Class 2A state-ranked baseball team, and it earned the junior the Chronicle-Tribune 2015-16 Athlete of the Year honor.
“If you work hard and don’t let people break you down, it doesn’t matter how big and slow you are,” Perkins said. “The hard work will pay off.”
During the past school year, Perkins earned coaches’ Class 2A junior all-state distinction and wrestled in the IHSAA state finals in the heavyweight (285-pound) class for the second time in three years. He also was the first wrestler in the tradition-rich wrestling program history to win a semistate championship.
“He’s a bull,” Oak Hill coach Andrew King said of Perkins. “He’s strong and has got great balance and great quickness and reacts very well. But he also is intelligent and that’s as important as anything else.”
Perkins made an impact on a wrestling mat from his very first high school match and made his first state finals appearance as a freshman. He lost to the eventual heavyweight runner-up in the opening round and finished with a 30-8 record.
He returned to the state finals last February a more experienced wrestler and had momentum following his semistate title. But after leading most of the match, Perkins lost his advantage and the match 4-3 to South Bend Washington’s Isaac McWilliams, who went on to a fourth-place finish.
“All the credit to (McWilliams) and he didn’t give up and he beat me by one point,” Perkins said. “I am definitely using that for motivation for this next year and I want to win state.”
Perkins finished the season 32-2 and during the season won the Central Indiana Conference for the third straight time as well as the sectional, regional and semistate. Of all his wins, the semistate means the most especially since he is the first.
“It was uncharted waters because I was the first to do it,” Perkins said. “Right after the match I was ecstatic and happy that I could represent my school and proud that all my team and family could watch it.”
In each postseason round, Perkins faced Marion’s DeAndre Hodge in the championship match, and the two engaged in three very competitive matches. Hodge had also punched his ticket to the state finals when he wrestled Perkins in the semistate final.
“It was crazy how we kept meeting up and I was honored to be part of a saga like that,” Perkins said of Hodge. “To see the same guy doesn’t happen very often. DeAndre is a great guy and hard worker and deserved every one of his wins.”
With 95 match wins, Perkins is on pace to surpass the all-time record that teammate Travis Davenport set this season. Davenport also was a state qualifier this past season.
“He had a great year,” King said, “and there are a lot of factors behind it. But you have to be very intelligent and very competitive. You are going against guys your own size and one case where it is the size of the dog as well as the size of the fight in the dog.”
As a football player, Perkins toils in relative anonymity on the offensive and defensive lines, but Oak Hill coach Bud Ozmun certainly notices. Perkins will begin his third season starting at left guard and also is a big part of the defensive line rotation.
“He has quick feet and moves well and can change direction,” Oak Hill football coach Bud Ozmun said. “He can stop on a dime. He’s going to be the anchor of our offensive line this year.”
Perkins also batted .292 for the Eagles’ 2A state-ranked baseball team with four doubles and 11 RBIs starting 25 of 29 games as the designated hitter.
Wrestling might be Perkins’ best sport, but he couldn’t choose between wrestling or football for his favorite.
Football, though, is the sport he will continue to play in college, and NAIA schools Taylor University and Marian University have made recruiting overtures.
Of the three sports, Perkins has wrestled the longest beginning at age four. His father Adam was a wrestler and coached various teams at Oak Hill.
“My dad has shown me how to use my size and work hard,” Perkins said. “He’s been a great teacher.”