By Mike Deak
AKRON – Opponents of Tippecanoe Valley have had their heads spinning trying to figure out what just zipped past them. In all likelihood, it was a Kirchenstien.
There isn’t just one, oh no, but three. And unlike family lineages at community schools, this isn’t the case of a series of siblings coming through the pipe. There are three of them. They are the same age. And they are all making positive impacts for the Tippecanoe Valley athletic department, particularly this spring.
All three of the Kirchenstien triplets are juniors at Valley, and all three are making major waves for their teams this spring. Starting with the oldest of the three, Owen, he is commanding the middle of the diamond for the Valley baseball team. Playing much of his games as the shortstop, he’s the leader of the Viking defense. At the plate, Owen is hitting .244 with a .360 on-base through 14 games (as of Thursday), with 10 hits, seven walks, six runs scored and a stolen base.
On the mound, Owen leads the team with 21 innings pitched and 36 strikeouts, but as remarkable, has only allowed one earned run in those innings of work.
The Vikings are off to a decent start, sitting at 7-7 overall and 2-2 in the Three Rivers Conference, Owen having a hand in the Vikings upsetting No. 6 ranked Peru on Wednesday.
“Being the first born, I do tend to take on more responsibilities, and I also try to look out for Rex and Macy,” Owen said. “But I feel like for the most part we all are fairly equal, and we don’t have major differences in responsibilities as some might have being a big brother.”
Second to see light was Macy, who has been in the middle of Valley’s surging softball season. Hitting all over the lineup, she has a .375 batting average and a .500 OBP. With 15 hits and 11 runs at the dish, she is also 5-6 in stolen base tries, which is foreshadowing a theme for the triplets.
Macy also has pitching prowess, leading the Lady Vikes with 42 innings pitched and 37 punchouts, the team (9-8, 2-3 TRC) garnering a state vote in the most recent poll for the first time in years.
Referred to by one of her brothers as a ‘Mother Hen’, Macy was quick to level down the role.
“I think the role is required since I am the only girl,” noted Macy. “I think we support each other pretty well and I think it is different because we do a lot of things together and can relate to each other.”
The “baby” of the trio is Rex. While the youngest of the three in terms of life experience, Rex has made quite a splash in Viking attire. Splitting time this spring at both baseball and track, Rex has had little to no time off, but that literally hasn’t slowed him down. A pair of triples against Warsaw helped the Vikings down their bitter baseball rivals, and another triple and three runs scored headlined a blowout of perennial power Fairfield.
In 11 games, Rex has a homer and three triples among his nine hits and is batting .321/.472 with 11 runs scored and a stolen base.
While his baseball exploits have been noticeable, it’s on the track where Rex has really made his name. Kirchenstien was already known as a freshman in the 100, 200 and 4×100 relays, but coming back as a junior, he now holds three Valley track records. At the Culver Academy/Caston meet on April 27, Kirchenstien ran a blistering 10.66 in the 100-meter dash. According to athletic.net, that time unofficially would be the second fastest in the state, behind George Bourdier of CMA, who actually beat Rex that night in the dual.
He later ran a 22.94 in the 200-meter dash, which would place him within the top 30 in the state, and Rex anchored the 4×100 relay to a 44.50, with Braden Shepherd, Jamasyn Virgil and Wade Jones lowering their own school record from earlier in the season.
The two individual records, set by Andrew Wood, had held for 35 years.
“It feels really smooth and easy when I’m moving that fast at a sub-11 pace,” Rex said. “When I ran that 10-6, it was windy so that helped a little, but it was so easy that day. I didn’t feel like there was anything that was going to slow me down. Once I got about to the 20-meter mark, I felt really good.”
All eyes will be on Rex tonight at the Three Rivers Conference Track Championships, as he will look to claim championships in the speed events. Valley baseball and softball are both off until Monday, so big brother and big sister will have a chance to see him race.
“I like watching Rex and Owen play,” added Macy, who also plays volleyball in the fall.
Owen, who is a star tennis player in the fall, chimed in, “I see competitiveness, and I enjoy watching that because I’m very competitive, and I love to see them competing and giving their all.”