Boys track takes underdog role
Heading into the regional meet, the Greenwave boys track and field team was nearly 20 points behind Elko.
Although Fallon didn’t leave Winnemucca with the team title last week, its improvement put a scare into the Indians as the Greenwave came 4.5 points away from winning the crown and one point from taking away second from Dayton.
The two-day state meet begins at 3 p.m. today at Carson High School and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The Greenwave qualified eight individuals and all four relay teams, while the girls team will be represented by three individuals and one relay team.
“We will be looking to go to state and bring home as many medals and state champions as possible,” Fallon boys coach Steve Heck said. “We will be a clear underdog to get the state title, but we will compete as though it is ours to take.”
Trent Tarner (100- and 200-meter), Jake Ernst (100, 200, triple jump), Nathan Heck (110 and 300 hurdles, pole vault), Tristan Thomson (800, 1,600), Beau Marshall (long and triple jumps), Aaron Bitter (triple jump), Cameron Kissick (200) and T.J. Mauga (discus) placed in the top four at last week’s regional meet, while Elena Murray (100 hurdles, triple jump), Patricia Leggett (long jump, 200) and Emily Coleman (shot put) qualified for the girls, who took fourth at the regional.
Steve Heck figures Dayton matches better with the southern schools although Elko won the regional title. Desert Springs looks to be in the mix for the state title but because of Dayton’s strengths in the field events, the Dust Devils could end up surprising everyone.
“Dayton matches up better than us or Elko with the South,” Heck said. “Their strength is in the field events and especially the throws. They look to be able to compete and beat the South in their events. I have them with a five-point advantage over Desert Springs from the South for the title.”
Fallon and Elko are strongest in the sprinting events and with the speed of the southern runners, Heck said it could be a struggle.
“Our strength is in the sprints where we will be struggling to compete with a very fast field from the south,” he said. “Elko is in a similar position as us and will have their points watered down by the speed of the southern runners.”
Sunrise Mountain also looks strong, giving little room for movement in the top of the standings.
“We have a lot of kids going who are in the middle or lower part of the pack, so we have nowhere to go but up,” Heck said. “There are a lot of kids with state experience on our team, which will help. If a couple of them have a big day and everyone else is solid, we could surprise some people.”
Tarner won the 100 race in 11.30 seconds last week and improved in the 200. Ernst took third in the 100 in 11.67, third in the 200 in 24.14 and third in the triple jump with a mark of 40 feet, 10 inches. The South’s best time from the regional last week in the 100 was 10.81, while the top 200 time was 21.89, with both coming in the preliminary heats.
“I think a first-place finish would be a lot to ask, but the way Trent and Jake are improving right now, I could see either of them coming home with a medal,” Heck said.
Recovering from an injury didn’t bother Cameron Kissick as he took fourth in the 200 to qualify as Fallon will have three sprinters competing.
“He (Kissick) had an impressive run in the 200 on Saturday coming back in the finals and beating kids who he lost to in the prelims,” Heck said. “He is coming off an injury well now and I would not be surprised to see him sneak higher in the field.”
A school record could be broken this weekend with Nathan Heck improving in the pole vault.
The junior tied the school record to win regionals by 6 inches last weekend with a vault of 15 feet and set a personal best after placing in the top three in both hurdle events. Heck took second in the 300 hurdles in 40.70 and third in the 110 hurdles in 16.69. The top marks from South included 13 feet in pole vault, 14.60 in the 110 and 38.93 in the 300.
Thomson was third in the 800 with a 2:00.09 and surprised his coaches in the 1,600 when he took third with a run of 4:44.79.
In the jumping pits, Marshall has been a force all season.
He won the triple jump by nearly a foot as he leaped 43-10.75 and took third in the long jump at 20-2. Aaron Bitter took fourth in the triple jump (40-5) and along with Ernst’s third-place effort, it gave Fallon three of the four state qualifiers in the event.
The South’s best mark in the triple jump was 45-7.5 and 23-7 in the long.
“Beau is really strong right now and I think he will give the South a real run for their money,” Steve Heck said. “He is really primed and I would not be surprised to see him pop off a huge jump at state.
“Jake is also getting better each week and should be in the mix (this) week. Aaron was a nice surprise in the triple. I think he shocked some people when he snuck into the last spot.”
Mauga gave Fallon its eighth individual qualifier with a fourth-place finish in the discus with a throw of 140-10.
“He launched a big one and bumped himself into a trip to state by just barely over a foot,” Heck said. “It really shows the competitive nature of the young man, and is quite a feat for a freshman.”
The relay teams didn’t produce a champion but with the variables associated with the race, like a bad exchange, Heck likes his squad’s chances at state.
The 4×100 team of Charles Fulks, Cole Service, Kissick and Tarner took second (44.42), while the 4×200 team of Kissick, Charles Fulks, Heck and Tarner was third (1:32.84). Fallon’s 4×400 team of Nathan Schank, Jordan Schultz, Fulks and Kissick finished third (3:32.04) and the 4×800 team of Sean Cordes, Josh Moulton, Thomson and Schank took fourth (8:41.03).
About two seconds separate Fallon from the South’s best in the 4×100, four seconds in the 4×200, six in the 4×400 and 10 in the 4×800.
“In the long relays, we will be mostly resting up and getting fresh legs this week,” Steve Heck said. “In the sprint relays, we will be working a lot on handoffs and trying to push the envelope so they are as fast as possible. The South has some smoking relays but if we can have clean handoffs and run well, I think we can bring home some medals.”
The girls team’s youthfulness showed this season with a handful of athletes qualifying, but coach Paul Orong sees an opportunity for the Lady Wave to give the South a battle.
“You know the South, they’re always going to be fast,” he said. “They have some girls in the jumps who have some big marks. We’ve gone down there last year with the same thing and came out top.”
Murray looks to defend her state title in the 100 hurdles and triple jump after winning the hurdles (15.74) and triple jump (32-11.75) last week. Murray also took fourth in the long jump at 14-11.5, while Leggett won the event at 16-6.25. Leggett also took second in the triple jump (32-6.25) and fourth in the 200 (26.99).
Coleman qualified for state on her last throw as she finished fourth in shot put at 33-3.5.
The 4×200 relay team of senior Allison Shirley, junior LeAnn Mounce, Murray and Leggett finished fourth at 1:50.56 to qualify as Fallon’s only relay team. Fallon’s time was five seconds off from the South’s best team.
“I like our girls’ chances to come and step up. That’s what we’ve been working hard for is this meet,” Orong said.