Dylan Meier - GBL 2015 Player of the Year Finalists

By: Conor Nicholl for Kpreps.com
Apr 13, 2016

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Kpreps.com is proud to announce another excellent group of finalists for the fifth annual Get Busy Livin’ – Kpreps Player of the Year Award in conjunction with the Dylan Meier Foundation.

The 2015 award finalists include Blake Beckett of Halstead, Brady Dinkel of Victoria, Tucker Horak of Rossville, Logan Koch of Mill Valley, Will Mengarelli of Pittsburg, and Ryan Menghini of Frontenac.  

The award is in honor of Dylan Meier, a former All-State quarterback at Pittsburg High School and starter at Kansas State University who died in a hiking accident in 2010 at the age of 26. The annual award goes out to one Kansas high school senior who not only has shown excellence on the field but also has demonstrated the values that Dylan embodied and Get Busy Livin’ (GBL) strives to promote: adventure, fitness, curiosity and a daily zest for life experiences. Past award winners include Denzel Goolsby of Bishop Carroll in 2014, Austin Chambers of Shawnee Mission West in 2013, Brad Strauss of Lawrence in 2012, and Kole Schankie of Madison in 2011.

Players from around the state were nominated. The GBL committee then narrowed the list of candidates to six.

“The GBL Foundation and the selection committee have chosen an exceptional group of finalists this year. Each of these candidates are good football players, and each exhibit the principles of the Get Busy Livin’ Foundation,” Kpreps editor Matt Gilmore said. “We are honored to be a part of this award, and all of the nominees should be extremely proud of this distinction.”

The award is made possible by the Get Busy Livin’ Foundation and Kpreps.com.

Here is a look at each of the finalists’ on- and off-the-field accomplishments:

2015 Kpreps  - Get Busy Livin’ Player of the Year Award Finalists

Blake Beckett - RB/LB - Halstead

Blake Beckett is well aware of 2014-15 Halstead football team’s place in school history. The Dragons reached the Class 3A sub-state championship game each season, tying the latest playoff advancement in school annals. Before ’14, Halstead hadn’t reached sub-state since 1980. Beckett said winning the Get Busy Livin’ Award would represent the team and everything “that we have all accomplished.”

“It’s been a huge honor just to represent Halstead,” Beckett said. “Seeing them just back on the excitement for sports, you could see how we were kind of falling off there, and we really brought this program back and restarted it, and turned things around how we wanted to. You could see just the fire in this community again, and how they were really excited for us.”

As a junior, Beckett cleared 2,100 rushing yards and broke 19 school records. Last fall, Beckett suffered a knee injury during the third quarter of the seventh game. He rehabbed, missed the final two regular season contests and returned for the playoffs. Beckett never complained of the pain during the season, but recently said it was a “9 or 10 pain definitely” on a 10-scale.

“It was not fun, but it was worth it,” Beckett said. “All four years I have worked so hard with this team, and there is no way that anything is going to stop me from just finishing the season with my guys.”

The high school football players, and notably Beckett, play a key role in the development of the younger ranks. The Dragons watch film Saturday mornings and then go watch the youngsters play. Coach Jason Grider said Beckett had ACL surgery Dec. 2. Two nights later, one of the young kids came over and played video games all evening with Beckett. Grider said Beckett’s example for the team and community “is second to none.”

“It’s about building the program from the bottom up,” Beckett said. “That’s something we take tons of pride in is our youth programs and  our middle school programs, just helping them build and get better.”

Brady Dinkel – QB/DB - Victoria

Brady Dinkel helped lead Victoria to a huge season-opening home victory against Central Plains in a matchup of defending eight-man state champions. Dinkel, the team’s all-state quarterback/safety, felt ill shortly after the contest and then eventually went to the emergency room in Hays. Then, Dinkel was eventually life-watched to Wichita with significant internal problems. Victoria coach Doug Oberle, among others, never thought Dinkel would play football again.

However, Dinkel progressed quickly and believed he would return. Dinkel, the oldest of three, discussed returning with his parents.

“They pretty much said that they know that a lot of people will think that it’s a bad idea if I come back just because of the risk of everything, but they told me that they had my back with whatever my decision was going to be,” Dinkel said. “They supported me through it all.”

Dinkel, who first returned as an all-purpose player and safety in Week 9, again took over at the starting quarterback when incumbent Joe Dortland suffered a season-ending collarbone injury in the first snaps of the sub-state championship game at Wallace County.

Dinkel capped his career in a remarkable way when he rushed 56 yards on 4th-and-1 on the game’s final offensive play to cap a perfect season for the Knights and Eight-Man, Division II state win versus Argonia-Attica. It marked the second undefeated year in tradition-laden Knights history.

“First, it’s just an honor to be nominated for the award, but winning it would just be outstanding,” Dinkel said. “Just representing Dylan and everything he stood for would mean a lot to me, and I would do my best to keep his legacy going.”

Dinkel, who started at guard in basketball and is one of the top players for Victoria-Russell baseball, said he in no pain. Dinkel has even considered playing college football at Fort Hays. Off the field, Dinkel and his family are very active with church in Victoria, a strong Catholic town.

“Just my experiences that I have had – I just know that any minute could be your last, so you need to live life to the most of its potential, that way you get everything out of it that you can,” Dinkel said.

Tucker Horak – QB/DB - Rossville

Tucker Horak has enjoyed one of the most decorated careers in Kansas high school football history. Horak paced Rossville to back-to-back perfect seasons and 3A titles, the first football crowns in school annals.

A Pittsburg State signee, Horak finished this past season with 47 rushing scores and 30 passing. A MaxPreps Small School All-American, Horak had 12,242 total yards of offense, including 6,790 rushing.

He made Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd in December. He ranked sixth all-time in the nation for total offense. Horak credited his teammates for blocking and opening holes. He became the first Kansan with 2,000 rushing and passing yards in the same season last fall.

“There’s not really a whole lot to see, just see the big hole that they make for me,” Horak said.

“It would mean a lot to me,” Horak said of the Get Busy Livin’ honor. “Just because we achieved pretty much all the team awards that we could possibly achieve going 14-0 my junior year, and then coming back my second year and doing it again – both years coming from behind (at state).”

Horak was a football team captain the past two seasons, carries a 3.5 GPA, is a first grade mentor and Shrine Bowl volunteer. As well, he has volunteered with his church and the Rossville Community Tall Corn Festival. Off the field, Horak is most proud of helping with the Rossville flood in summer 2015. The team helped move furniture, fill sand bags and supply food.

“It just shows how nice it is to be from a small town, and how truly blessed we are to know everyone and have everyone in there helping out,” Horak said.

Logan Koch – QB – Mill Valley

Several times, Mill Valley coach Joel Applebee said quarterback Logan Koch competed “like no other kid that I’ve ever coached.” Koch and all-purpose threat Christian Jegen were the fulcrums that took Mill Valley, 5-5 in 2014, to a 12-1 record and Class 5A state championship last fall.

The Jaguars won the first football crown in school history. Koch said “coming back” from 2014 and the huge improvement was his proudest moment. Even from 7-on-7 and summer weights, Koch saw potential in his team.

“Something special,” he said.

Koch rushed for 781 yards and 13 scores, and passed for 2,483 yards and 32 TDs. A four-year starter on the hardwood, Koch signed with Eastern Illinois for basketball.

Applebee said Koch has a “high degree” of integrity, responsibility and ambition on the football field and classroom. Koch served in multiple capacities and carried an A/B grade-point average.

He was a volunteer coach, helped with community service with a golf tournament and soup kitchen, and assisted with the March of Dimes. Mill Valley picks its captains weekly, and Koch was often a selection. Koch, a leader by example, said the Get Busy Livin’ honor would “mean a lot.”

“All of the hard work paying off,” he said.

Will Mengarelli – LB – Pittsburg

Because of the Meier family’s connection to the area, Pittsburg High School has a Dylan Meier Most Inspirational Award for the Purple Dragon program. Linebacker Will Mengarelli, a three-year all-conference linebacker, has won the award the last two seasons. He called winning the Dylan Meier honor greater than even all-state.

“It’s the biggest honor that we have at our school, winning the Dylan Meier Award,” he said. “It means a lot to me especially since it’s voted on by teammates, and there’s plenty of people on our team that could have won it.”

Pittsburg coach Tom Nickelson called Mengarelli the “true heart and soul” of Pittsburg football. Mengarelli strives to be nice to everyone and give full effort in everything.

“It means so much to my teammates, my family, to me,” Mengarelli said of Meier. “And just how big of a deal it is – and just honoring Dylan Meier and trying to live the way that he did.”

Mengarelli gave credit to his family, going back to his great-great grandfather, Henry, who moved from Italy, along with grandfather and dad. Henry moved to 50 Camp in southeast Kansas went he was 14 and lived with a family. He worked in coal mines for 8-10 hours a day, then he would farm for another six and then sleep only a few hours a night.

“Looking down the line, I see these great people,” he said. “I want to be exactly like that. I want to be exactly the people that they are and how great they are.”

Ryan Menghini – HB/LB - Frontenac

Frontenac’s Ryan Menghini called his greatest achievement simply being part of the football team with head coach Mark Smith.

“I am going to miss high school football, and I am going to miss my team and Coach Smith,” Menghini said. “Coach Smith was a big influence on me, and he was more of a friend actually to me than anything.”

Even as a freshman, Menghini looked to help his team. He eventually collected all-league honors three times and served as a team captain in 2015 when he collected 974 offensive yards, 12 scores and 80 tackles. Smith said Menghini was the best leader he’s ever seen. Menghini never missed a day of weights and had tremendous work ethic with football and in the classroom.

“My dad always taught me to always have a good attitude,” he said. “Freshman year, you are at the bottom of the pool, so I always want to do the right thing and try to be a leader, because I always looked up to the seniors, and I think I grew into it, but I definitely think that just having a positive attitude helped me get there faster.”

Menghini, who does not plan to play football past this summer’s Shrine Bowl, said he gave “his best effort” continually, because no one knows “when your last day on Earth is.”

Menghini has always tried to get involved with the community and helped in a variety of ways, including helping with JV and youth games, set up/cleaned up Festa Italiana, pumpkin distribution, Special Olympics, church and community service projects and raking leaves for the elderly in Frontenac.

He has deep respect for the Meier family and the Get Busy Livin’ honor.

“Kerry Meier going to the NFL, and hearing nothing but good things from their family, it means a lot,” he said. “I know how much the award means, and how much the Dylan Meier Foundation means, so I think it would be not only a great award, but it would personally be a high achievement.”

The GBL Foundation also would like to recognize the following candidates that received the distinction of being GBL finalists:

Orion Battaglia, OL/DL, St. Mary’s Colgan

Connor Byers, QB, Bonner Springs

Dalton Peters, RB, Salina Central

John Reed, RB/LB, Uniontown

Brady Rust, QB, Derby

Luke Schemm, RB/LB, Sharon Springs-Wallace Co.

Trey Teeter, QB, Holcomb


Dylan Meier, a 2002 graduate of Pittsburg High School, was a two-time All-State quarterback for the Purple Dragons. He continued his football career at Kansas State University and started 11 games from 2004-06 as the Wildcats’ signal caller.

On April 19, 2010, Meier died at the age of 26 in an accident while hiking with family in Arkansas.

In addition to his time in Kansas, Dylan played professional football in Germany and Italy, served as a bodyguard for Italian fashion models, worked in a vineyard overseas, ran with the bulls in Spain and went skydiving in the Alps. His next plans included coaching football in Europe, teaching English in Korea and possibly a return to Kansas State as a graduate assistant.

“He had a real zest for life,” Merle Clark, Dylan’s high school coach and family friend said days after the accident. “He lived a lot in his 26 years.”

That zest for life is the basis of the Get Busy Livin’ Foundation that was established in Dylan’s honor. The mission is to provide support for individuals and groups that embody the values that Dylan pursued: adventure, fitness, curiosity, generosity and a daily zest for life experiences.

The GBL Foundation is determined to break down the boundaries that keep people from living life to the fullest, whether those boundaries are social, economic or imaginary.

GBL uses donations to promote these values in the following ways: student/athletic scholarships, sport camp sponsorships, student travel abroad scholarships, community service needs and other activities that inspire and build character.

For more information, please visit http://getbusylivin.org.


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