Joe Dawkins, who set a state record and won multiple Meet of Champions titles during his days as a two-sport star at Hackensack High School, has died at the age of 42, according to a report by northjersey.com's Paul Schwartz.
Per Schwartz's story, Dawkins's father, Joseph Dawkins, died of complications from COVID-19 on April 25. Dawkins, devastated by his father's death, then disappeared before being found dead on May 7 in Paterson, NJ.
Dawkins leaves behind a legacy as one of the greatest sprinters in state history and one of the best athletes to ever come through Bergen County. He was All-State running back and sprinter in high school, and went on to play football for Joe Paterno at Penn State.
On the track, Dawkins was simply electrifying!
As a junior in 1995, Dawkins broke an 11 year-old state record in the 55m dash when he blasted a 6.30 en route to a 6.78 when he finished third in the 60m dash at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships. The 6.30 by Dawkins broke the state record of 6.31 set in 1984 by the legendary Dennis Mitchell of Edgewood, an Olympic gold medalist.
Dawkins's state record, which stood for 16 years, was broken in 2011 when current New England Patriots wide receiver Damiere Byrd of Timber Creek ran 6.26 en route to winning the New Balance National Indoor title in the 60m in 6.74.
Dawkins, who won one Meet of Champions title indoors in his career (the 55m in 1995), won three MOCs crowns outdoors.
He won the 100m as a sophomore at the 1994 MOCs, and swept the 100 and 200 at the '95 MOCs. He was the third boy to ever win two straight MOCs 100m dash crowns. He seemed destined to become the first to ever pull off a three-peat in the 100m. But a knee injury as a senior in '96 derailed those hopes.
Ed Church, who coached Dawkins at Hackensack during his legendary track and field coaching career, told Schwartz he was blown away by the talent Dawkins possessed.
"As a freshman he came out for track and we had no idea what we had,'' said Church. "He became a national-class athlete and guys he beat in high school later became Olympians.''
Church also told Schwartz he spoke with Dawkins recently.
"He contacted me a few weeks ago, said he was doing well and gave me his phone number and asked me to stay in touch with him,'' said Church. "Sadly, I never got to call and now I never will be able to."