Elks on the run
For 42 years, the Fallon-Elks Invitational has been a staple in Nevada track.
On Saturday, the event returns as 20 schools being competition at 9 a.m. at the Edward Arciniega Complex.
The meet is the second oldest in Northern Nevada, only behind the Yerington Invitational, which has been running for more than 80 years.
“We’ve always had great performances here,” Fallon boys coach Steve Heck said. “It’s kind of the first big competition of the year, so it’s their chance to break out big. We have about 70 volunteers and we get a great response (from other coaches). That’s the reason the meet runs so well.”
Several years ago, attendance for the Fallon-Elks meet started to dip as the conditions of the track deteriorated. Once a new track was installed, those schools returned to the decorated event.
This year, the invitational features two Division I schools, eight in DI-A, five in DIII and five in DIV. The range of schools also allows the athletes to compete against various competitors as opposed to a league meet.
Weather in late March is always an adventure, and this year is no different. The National Weather Service is forecasting a 40 percent chance of rain with a high of 65 degrees and wind gusts up to 25 mph.
But severe weather has never deterred the coaches, athletes and volunteers in the past.
“One year, the wind blew so hard it blew the high jump pits over the fence,” Fallon girls coach Paul Orong said.
“We had to skip the pole vault that year,” Heck added.
Many of the DI schools, however, do not attend as they did in the past, as Damonte Ranch started its own meet several years ago, poaching the Reno schools. This year, though, DI powerhouse McQueen and Wooster will be competing.
The meet allows prep fans the opportunity to watch many of the best athletes in the North and the state. Whether it’s the sprints, distance or field events, the Fallon-Elks displays many future state champions.
“When you get to go against the McQueen’s … our kids want to compete to show they belong in any division,” Orong said.
Fallon brings some of the region’s and state’s best athletes into the meet.
Charles Fulks is sixth in DI-A in the 400, Tristen Thomson and Nathan Schank are fourth and eighth, respectively, in the 800, while Nathan Heck is second in the 110 and fourth in the 300 hurdles.
In the field events, Justin Hatfield sits in second in the shot put, while T.J. Mauga is fourth in the discus and Hatfield is fifth. Thomas Diaz sits in sixth in the high jump, Heck is third in the pole vault, Beau Marshall fourth in the long jump and second in the triple jump, while Jake Ernst is third in the triple jump.
For the Lady Wave, Patricia Leggett and Elena Murray lead the way. Leggett is fourth in the 400 and long jump and sixth in the triple jump.
Murray is second in the triple jump, third in the long jump and fourth in the 100 hurdles. Murray and Leggett present formidable challenges throughout the season and are expected to compete for several individual state titles.
Leann Stands is having a breakout season in the shot put as the freshman sits in third and fifth in the discus. Emily Coleman is fourth in the discus and seventh in the shot put, giving the Lady Wave a dangerous duo in the throws.
“We always expect to do well at our meet in front of our hometown,” Orong said.
The event will also feature the DI-A’s top 800-meter runner (Aaron Elissa of Dayton), 3,200 runner (Daniel Sallee of Spring Creek) plus field athletes like Dayton’s Joshua Koch (shot put), Zachary Hawley (discus) and Benji Play (high jump).
On the girls side, Dayton’s Kaylee Turner is atop the DI-A in the shot put and discus, while Elko’s Vivan Neff is the top pole vaulter.