The run for a fourth-straight Northern Division I-A title may be more challenging than the past several years.
Fallon’s quest to repeat as champs must run through stalwart Elko and upstart Dayton.
The Greenwave begin their journey at 3 p.m. today and 9 a.m. Saturday in Winnemucca at Lowry High School.
“For the boys, we want to go win,” coach Steve Heck said. “We are going in with the idea that we are defending our Northern title. Our big goal, though, is to get as many people to state (as possible).”
Although Elko and Dayton provide stiff opposition, the Wave are an experienced club with a several of the league’s best athletes.
On the girls side, coach Paul Orong was coy about standout athletes Elena Murray and Patricia Leggett. Each is a versatile athlete who can compete in numerous events.
Leggett is ranked first in the 100 and long jump, while Murray is best in the 100 hurdles and triple jump. Murray, though, sits just behind Leggett in the long jump, while Leggett is second to Murray in the triple jump.
But Leggett also sits in second and fifth in the 200 and 400, respectively, giving Orong a difficult decision in which events to run the sophomore sensation.
“We’ll find out at regionals,” Orong said of the events his two stars will run. “We have several options and what we think will be best for our team.”
Leading the way are Nathan Heck, Trent Tarner, Jake Ernst, Tristen Thomson, Nathan Schank, Beau Marshall, Justin Hatifled and T.J. Mauga. Combined, they give Fallon a deep and talented team in every event, a key to claiming another regional crown.
It was reported Wednesday Tarner was ineligible, but he is eligible and will run this weekend.
Heck is the league’s second-ranked pole vaulter and 110-meter hurlder and is No. 3 in the 300 hurdles. Heck is also ranked fifth in the 100 and 200, but Steve Heck said Nathan Heck will compete in one of the relays.
“We should be able to put our best team forward,” Steve Heck said.
Tarner and Ernst give the Wave a solid 1-2 punch in the sprints, while Ernst is also a threat in the jumps. Adding depth to the sprints is Charles Fulks, who sits seventh in the 200.
A season-best run could put Fulks into state and give Fallon a much-needed third sprinter in the 200.
Marshall, meanwhile, is the league’s top triple jumper, No. 5 in the long jump and tied for sixth in the high jump. In a bit of surprise, Marshall will also compete in the discus, where he has competed in at least one meet this season.
“At practice, he’s had some out there that would be in range to be in the top four,” Steve Heck said.
In the throws, Hatfield and Mauga are chasing Dayton’s duo of Joshua Koch and Zach Hawley. Hatfield is No. 3 in the shot put followed by Dakota Schelling in seventh and Mauga in 10th.
In the discus, Mauga ranks third followed by Hatfield in eighth.
But all it takes is one throw to change an expected outcome.
“We should be well represented in just about every event,” Heck said.
For the Lady Wave, Orong is hopefully to add to Leggett and Murray’s contribution with throwers Leann Stands, Emily Coleman and Savannah Lamb. In addition, the long-time coach said Diana Martinez is coming on in the 3,200 race and has a chance to slip into the top four.
Stands has been solid all season and sits in second in the shot put, while Coleman is sixth. In the discus, Stands is ranked third followed by Coleman in fourth and Lamb in sixth.
“For us, it’s going to come down to our weaker events where the stronger schools will split up points,” he said.
Fallon’s competition, though, is stiff as Truckee and Spring Creek boast loaded squads and will be tough to track down.
Nevertheless, Fallon’s steady improvement is taking form, especially in the relays. The 4x200 is ranked fourth, while the 4x100 is fifth and 4x400 and 4x800 are ranked sixth.
Solid runs with clean handoffs will be key for the relays to secure points and hopefully qualify for state.
“Our relays are getting better,” Orong said. “We lost some people, but we’ll see what we have.”