Busy Block Does it All During 3-Sport Spring
May 3, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
LANSING – Dawson Block has his seven varsity letters earned over the last 2½ years piled on a table in his bedroom.
They aren’t in any particular order or out for display. In fact, they’re probably the most disorganized part of an incredibly organized guy’s impressive high school sports career.
As sports teach lessons, it’s obvious what the Lansing Christian junior is learning most this spring. Time management is a must when you’re playing three sports in one season, with competitions usually four or five days a week and one day to practice for all of them.
But he’s pulling it off – and then some.
In fact, the main downside – not counting the busy schedule – is that he can’t dedicate more time to all three. He’s run a personal-best in track in the 800 meters and is only a few seconds from his best in the 1,600. He’s a regular scorer for a golf team that’s in serious contention for its first league title and could make the MHSAA Finals for the first time. His return to the pitcher’s mound has included two solid outings – not bad for someone who hasn’t played baseball since middle school. And on top of it all, he’s carrying a 3.95 grade-point average as he makes academic lessons a priority while picking up more on the track, course and diamond.
“I’m a big fan of sports,” Block said. And it’s just that simple, even when scheduling gets complicated.
“I like running. I like being outside, playing golf, trying to get the swing down. And baseball is something (where) I have a decent throw, so it makes it a lot easier. I just like pitching.
“I’ve done track for a long time, and I feel I’m pretty good at it and I can’t see myself not doing it. The past few years I’ve fallen in love with golf, and I have a drive to want to be good at it and potentially play in college if I get good enough. Baseball, I’m more just there to help the team out; they need arms, so I do it for that reason.”
A spring day in the life of Block looks like this:
On days when he doesn’t have a game/match/meet, he’ll go to golf or track practice after school. If he goes to track, he’ll get done at 4:30 or 5 p.m., then head over to the driving range by himself to hit balls. Or, he could go from golf or track practice after school and catch the end of baseball practice, where coach David Miranda will work with him on pitching. Or, Block will hit track practice, then the golf range, and as happened last week, pitch to his dad Jason in their yard until it’s too dark to see the ball. If Dawson goes to golf and baseball practice, he’ll finish his sports night with a running workout.
And then from about 8 p.m. until he’s done, Block takes care of his homework.
“I’ve never met a kid – and I’ve been coaching for 12 years or more at Lansing Christian in baseball, golf, basketball and soccer – Dawson is just, ever since I can remember, over the top,” said Jason Block, who in addition to being Dad is also the Pilgrims’ boys golf coach. “Whatever he’s in, he’s going to try to within reason be the best he can be. When we’d play flag football, he’d do practice and then run with a parachute after practice; he always does the extra mile.
(But) if anyone can do it, it would be Dawson. His work ethic is off the charts. It basically became a situation of we got the calendar out, (said) here’s a track meet, here’s a golf match, where are the holes? Is there any way without killing ourselves that we can make this work?”
Track and golf always were sure to be part of Dawson’s schedule. He’s competed in both all three years of high school so far. But he hadn’t thrown since middle school – although he pitched well enough back then that Miranda, who had coached against some of Block’s teams when Dawson was a kid, approached him in church a few times to ask him to join on – if only to lend another left-handed option to the pitching staff.
“I told him no for a long time,” Block said. “But then I was like, maybe this wouldn’t be bad. Maybe I can do this with the other things, just come when I can and pitch. I just decided that one day at church.”
It no doubt helped that Block had done similar juggling before. In addition to two previous years of spring dual sporting, Block was the second-fastest finisher on the cross country team that placed 13th at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals in the fall, coming in 45th with a time of 17:29.6 – and balanced that sport with playing on the junior varsity soccer team.
During the winter, Block was on the junior varsity basketball team – but then also ran every night after practice to keep his mileage up for spring.
Block has run the 800 this spring in 2:13.87, his career best, and his 4:55.23 in the 1,600 at a tri-meet April 18 was fewer than three seconds off his personal record for that race. On the golf course he’s averaging 45 strokes for nine holes and shot an 86 as Lansing Christian won last week’s Duane Blatt Invitational hosted by Pewamo-Westphalia. He threw one inning Saturday in his second baseball outing after allowing only one run over multiple innings during his first.
From the Dad point of view, Jason can be impressed with Dawson’s organization; his son always has his clothes laid out for the next day and hand-writes his schedule in a calendar he keeps handy. At the same time, Jason said occasionally he wishes Dawson would find time for more fun and going out with friends. But Block’s parents have made sure not to push any of these athletic opportunities on him, and the fact he continues to be a model student in the classroom is a good sign he’s making everything fit.
Anticipating three varsity letters this spring and at least four over his senior year, Block could graduate with 14 after playing more than 20 sports seasons. That pile in his room is going to get a little higher.
And so will that stack of benefits from playing so much. Along with time management, Block quickly points to patience – especially on the golf course – as a lesson he’s derived from athletics. There’s something there about bouncing back as well after a bad shot or other mistake.
And he got an interesting history lesson from one of his teachers, Eric Thomas, who told Block the story of Jim Thorpe, who won Olympic gold medals and played Major League Baseball and in the National Football League a century ago.
As noted above, the main downsides to this spring for Block have been less sleep – he’s staying up a little late getting that homework done and has to talk himself into a second wind sometimes – and the inability to be everywhere at once. He doesn’t like feeling like he’s letting any of his teammates down – and he does his best to be with all of them as much as possible.
But he’d also tell anyone interested to give three sports in one season a try.
“It can be a lot of work, a lot of struggle,” Block said. “But if you’re willing to work hard and have some determination, you can do it.”
Geoff Kimmerly joined the MHSAA as its Media & Content Coordinator in Sept. 2011 after 12 years as Prep Sports Editor of the Lansing State Journal. He has served as Editor of Second Half since its creation in Jan. 2012. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for the Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Livingston, Ionia, Clinton, Shiawassee, Gratiot, Isabella, Clare and Montcalm counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Lansing Christian’s Dawson Block races down the straightaway during a race this spring. (Middle) Block lines up a putt during a golf competition. (Below) Block throws during a baseball game Saturday, May 7. (Photos courtesy of Jason Block.)
Preview: UP Boys Finals Loaded with Intriguing Opportunities
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
June 2, 2023
Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Boys Track & Field Finals can match storylines with any of the other events happening statewide on the busiest day of the school sports season.
The Division 1 meet will pit rivals returning after one point separated them a year ago, while Division 2 will see a pair of 2022 champions looking to win again.
Munising’s Micaiah Peramaki will compete in his last Finals after becoming the latest to win four individual events last spring, and Pickford’s David Kozisek will compete in his first and only Finals with a great possibility of becoming the next four-event champ.
All three divisions will again be contested at Kingsford High School, with preliminaries leading off the day at 9 a.m. local (Central) time. Tickets cost $11 and are available digitally only via GoFan.
MHSAA.tv will live-stream the meets beginning at 9 a.m. (CDT)/10 a.m. (EDT), viewable with subscription.
Following is a glance at team contenders and individuals to watch in all three divisions:
Team forecast: Marquette owns a two-year championship streak, but claimed last season’s title by a mere point ahead of Kingsford. The Flivvers will pose another challenge Saturday with a pair of relay favorites and strong field events hoping to counter Marquette’s distance stars and overall depth. Sault Ste. Marie, boasting excellence in the distance events as well, could factor significantly.
Matthew Colavecchi, Iron Mountain junior: Last season’s 100 and 200 champion in UPD2 will run on a contending 400 relay and had the sixth-fastest UPD1 Regional time in the 100 (11.85).
Will Fairchild, Iron Mountain senior: He finished fifth both in the 110 and 300 hurdles and eighth in long jump in UPD2 last season, but heads into these UPD1 Finals with the top Regional times for his division in both races – 16.05 and 42.48, respectively.
Michael Floriano, Kingsford junior: Last season’s 200 and 400 relay champion and 100 dash runner-up will run on two favored relays this time and also enters with the third-fastest UPD1 Regional times in the 100 (11.56) and 200 (23.94).
Drew Hughes, Gladstone senior: After running a relay at last year’s Finals, he’s set to run two plus enters with the top UPD1 Regional time in the 800 (2:05.23) and fourth-fastest in the 1,600 (4:38.46).
Gabe Litzner, Sault Ste. Marie freshman: The UPD1 cross country champion in the fall enters his first Track Finals with the top UPD1 Regional times in the 1,600 (4:35.42) and 3,200 (9:58.36).
Cole Myllyla, Kingsford senior: He’s another returning relay champ and also won the long jump and was sixth in the high jump last season. He’ll run on two favored relays and had the third-best UPD1 Regional long jump (20-¼).
Carson VanderSchaaf, Marquette senior: He’s a two-time 3,200 champion and also won the 1,600 and as part of the 3,200 relay last spring, and he’ll enter Saturday with the second-fastest UPD1 Regional time in the 1,600 (4:37.21) and third-fastest in the 3,200 (10:02.40).
Colin VanderSchaaf, Marquette senior: He’s also won races the last two Finals, the 800 last year and 1,600 as a sophomore (finishing second to his brother last year), and enters this meet with the second-fastest UPD1 Regional times in the 400 (54.11) and 800 (2:06.68) and third-fastest in the 1,600 (4:37.28).
Team forecast: Ishpeming has four won straight Division 2 titles (not counting canceled 2020), but Pickford – last season’s UPD3 champion – might be the favorite to continue its streak instead. The Panthers have contenders in several events and also will get help with a number of Bark River-Harris hopefuls slotting into possible high places as well. That said, the Hematites do have qualifiers in 16 events and depth to match anyone in the field.
Caden Awbrey, Pickford senior: He won the 300 hurdles in UPD3 and was second in the 110 last season, also running on championship and runner-up relays. He’ll run on two contending relays this weekend and enters with the UPD2 Regionals third-fastest 300 time (43.97) and fourth-fastest in the 110 (17.63).
Wyatt Demers, Manistique junior: He had a busy 2022 Finals with a relay championship, fifth places in the 100 and 400 and a third in the 200. He could top that as part of two contending relays and entering with the fastest UPD2 Regional times in the 100 (11.5) and 200 (23.24).
Tramon Gauthier, Ishpeming junior: He played a major role in last year’s team title with a win in the 110 hurdles, second in the 300 and fourth-place long jump, and this weekend he enters with the second-best UPD2 Regional long jump (19-3), second-fastest 110 (16.41) and 300 hurdles (43.34) times and fourth-fastest in the 100 (11.99).
Hayden Hagen, Pickford junior: After also running on a relay champ last year in UPD3 and finishing fourth in the 3,200 and ninth in the 1,600, he’s lined up for a huge meet entering with the top UPD2 Regional times in the 800 (2:14.15), 1,600 (5:03.16) and 3,200 (11:08.89).
David Kozisek, Pickford senior: He could cap his lone season of high school track with one of the most memorable as he enters with the top UPD2 Regional times in the 110 (15.39) and 300 hurdles (42.37) and top high jump (5-10) and long jump (20-7½) as well.
Owen Lester, St. Ignace junior: The reigning pole vault champion (and seventh-place finisher in the 300 hurdles) posted the top UPD2 Regional pole vault (11-6) by six inches.
Brayden Martin, Ishpeming junior: He had the farthest UPD2 shot put (43-8½) and second-longest discus toss (119-2) at Regionals, after finishing fourth in the shot put at last year’s Finals.
Team forecast: There will be a new champion with Pickford in UPD2, with 2022 runner-up Munising coming off a Regional title after falling just nine points shy of catching the Panthers a year ago. The Mustangs have favorites in several events and contenders in most others. Newberry, fifth in UPD2 last season, also looks capable of making serious noise.
Joe Kelley, Munising junior: He finished fifth in the 300 and sixth in the 110 hurdles last season, but could play a massive part Saturday entering with the fastest UPD3 Regional 300 (44.81) and second-fastest time in the 110 (17.06).
Kalvin Kytta, Chassell sophomore: He finished seventh in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and 10th in the 800 as a freshman and also will be expected to score entering with the fastest UPD3 Regional times in the 1,600 (4:48.91) and 3,200 (10:56.07).
Seth Mills, Paradise Whitefish senior: He could become his school’s first Finals champion in this sport as he enters with the top UPD3 Regional discus throw (149-4) by more than 21 feet – and with that toss nearly 40 better than his fifth-place finish in the event a year ago. He also enters with the sixth-best UPD3 Regional shot put (38-5).
Josiah Peramaki, Munising senior: The reigning pole vault champion also was third in the long jump and fifth in the 200 last season, and he’ll enter this weekend tied with the top UPD3 Regional pole vault (12-0) and also competing on a relay and in the long jump and 100, having posted the third-fastest time (11.73) in the sprint.
Micaiah Peramaki, Munising senior: He became the eighth boys four-time Finals individual champion last year winning the 100, 200, 400 and discus. He could add three more individual titles entering Saturday with UPD3 Regional bests in the 100 (11.24), 200 (23.47) and 400 (53.05) while also running on a contending relay.
Matthew Rahilly, Newberry sophomore: He was fifth in the long jump and ran on two scoring relays in UPD2 as a freshman, and enters this Finals with the best UPD3 Regional long jump (19-9) and tied for the second-best high jump (5-8).
Ian Sundling, Rapid River senior: The reigning long jump champ also finished seventh in high jump last season and will compete in both plus two relays, entering with the third-best UPD3 Regional long jump (19-1).
PHOTO Iron Mountain's Matthew Colavecchi (3) edges Pickford's David Kozisek (2) and Powers North Central's Luke Gorzinski (4) in a 200 heat at the April 17 Superior Dome Invitational. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)