Joshua Morrison/News Kevin Henthorn, Danville Police Officer and Monroe Township firefighter, shows off his undershirt dedicated to fellow Danville officer Thomas Cottrell before he begins his run up in the Rastin Stair Climb on Saturday afternoon.

Joshua Morrison/Mount Vernon News

Kevin Henthorn, Danville Police Officer and Monroe Township firefighter, shows off his undershirt dedicated to fellow Danville officer Thomas Cottrell before he begins his run up in the Rastin Stair Climb on Saturday afternoon.


MOUNT VERNON — Rastin Challenge participants were greeted with a nice cool day to compete in the various contests at Ariel-Foundation Park Saturday.

The Rastin Challenge saw teams of first responders from various departments competing in different events throughout the day. This included a ‘combat’ challenge for firefighters and a tactical obstacle course open to both firefighters and policemen, along with the Rastin Tower Climb and the K-9 Challenge.

Six teams of four firefighters competed in the main event, the Rastin Tower Stair Climb. They included Mount Vernon Fire Department, Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District, Worthington Fire Department, Monroe Township Fire Department, and two teams from West Licking Joint Fire Department from Pataskala.

“This is my second year doing this,” Tim Doran from the West Licking team said. Doran said he didn’t necessarily do any training for the event except for more cardio but a few others came to the tower to practice.

“It’s important for fire fighters to keep friendly competitions and stay in shape,” Doran said. “It’s a good way to test yourself against different departments and see how good you can do.”

This was Billy Rings’ and the Worthington Fire Departments’ first year competing in the Rastin Challenge.

“A member of the team used to work for Mount Vernon and he knew of the Rastin Challenge,” Rings said as to why they decided to make a team to come out and compete.

He said that the other team members did some more cardio and workout circuits to prepare for Saturday’s challenge but he really didn’t do much else.

Justin Wilt, of Mount Vernon Fire Department, said he came out to do the challenge to represent the fire department.

“We’ve been trying to train the last couple weeks and months for the tower,” he said. He said they climb the tower first in street wear, then fire gear, and then with the air-pack on to gradually get used to it.

Mount Vernon Fire Department took first place with an overall time of 4 minutes and 23 seconds. West Licking’s second team took second with an overall time of 4 minutes and 32 seconds while Worthington took third place with a 4 minutes and 45 seconds time.

The K-9 Challenge, which first showcased last year, included both narcotics detection and an agility course for the K-9 and their handler. In total, 13 different dogs competed in the challenge from various departments including Delaware Police Department, Westerville Police, Marion Police Department, and Mount Vernon Police Department.

Matthew Jones with the Mount Vernon K-9 Unit said that they brought out their dog, DJ, because it’s a big community event.

“People behind the scenes who really don’t know what they’re talking about,” Jones said as to why it’s beneficial to see these dogs in settings like the challenge. He said it allows the community to see what is actually meant when they say that a dog as alerted a vehicle.

“They (K-9 dogs) are a great asset to the community and need to be in every community not just for the fight on narcotics but for public relations,” Jones told the News. “Come talk to DJ, he’s very friendly and happy. He’ll let you love him and pet him.”

Bryan Schwartz represented the Westerville Police Department in the K-9 Challenge for the second year.

“It’s good to just go out and see where everyone’s dogs are at as far as the level of detection and agility,” Schwartz said as to why he participated in the challenge, “And it’s good to network with the other agencies.”

He said he thinks people have a lot of misconceptions with it come to working dogs and police dogs.

“(People think) they’re just this mean and vicious dog as soon as you open the door you’re gonna get attacked,” he said. “Dogs are social just like people and it’s good to have them (the public) come out and watch and see the dogs interact with others.”


  • Joshua Morrison/News Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District Lt. Jason Stephens uses a sledge hammer during the firefighter combat challenge on Saturday morning’s Rastin Challenge.
  • Joshua Morrison/News Mount Vernon Emergency Services Unit team member Aaron Collins leaps over a water pit during the Tactical Obstacle Combat Challenge on Saturday morning’s Rastin Challenge.
  • Joshua Morrison/News Jonathan Stephens takes a whack with the sledgehammer on the sled portion of the Rastin Challenge.
  • Joshua Morrison/News Mount Vernon Fire Department’s Justin Wilt, begins his run up the Rastin Observation Tower as part of the Rastin Stair Climb on Saturday.
  • Joshua Morrison/News Mount Vernon Police Department K-9 Laya and Officer Sarah Wheeler await their turn at the obstacle course portion of the K-9 challenge.
  • Joshua Morrison/News Mount Vernon Fire Firefighter Jared McCann makes his way down the Rastin Observation Tower on Saturday morning at Ariel-Foundation Park. McCann competed in the Rastin Stair Climb later in the afternoon, making it to the top in 49.12 seconds.
  • Joshua Morrison/News Knox County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeremy Carpenter leads K-9 Splinter through the obstacle course of the K-9 Challenge Saturday at Ariel-Foundation Park.
  • Joshua Morrison/News Knox County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Will Shaffer falls into the water during the during the Tactical Obstacle Course at Ariel-Foundation Park on Saturday. Nicknamed Hannibal of the KCSO “A-Team.”

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Competition Results

Stair Climb Results
Team Time
West Licking #1 6:22.78
Mount Vernon 4:23.25
West Licking #2 4:32.25
Monroe Township 10:39.59
EKJFD 5:22.37
Worthington 4:45.88
Tactical Obstacle Course Results
Team Time
KCSO B-Team 3:32.03
OHSP Phillips Strong 3:19.19
Genoa Township 6:17.22
MVPD Patrol 4:09.31
ASORT 3:02.22
OHSP Road Dogs 3:02.16
MVPD ESU 3:08.75
KCSO A-Team 4:20.69
Firefighters Combat Challenge
Team Time
West Licking 1:19
Mount Vernon #3 1:24
Worthington Fire 1:31
MVFD Officers
Mount Vernon #1
K-9 Challenge
Officer K-9 Agency
Bryan Schwartz Fiji Westerville – 1st Place
Adam Graham Ollie Delaware – 2nd Place
Richard Wheeler Joker Marion – 3rd Place
Michael Sieman Ben Genoa Township
Matt Jones DJ Mount Vernon
John Cox TC Danville
Dave Burris Hugo Newark
Sarah Wheeler Laya Mount Vernon
Jeremy Carpenter Splinter Knox County Sheriff’s Office
Jon Purtee Bear Newark
Chase Law Lola Knox County Sheriff’s Office
Jacob Dickerson Danny Ohio State Highway Patrol
Colt Browne Atos Ohio State Highway Patrol

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Jamie Holland: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @




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