Fallon in running for state crown
Wave at a glance
Coach: Steve Heck
2014 result: Sixth at state
Saturday host 1A meet, 9a.m.
March 14 at Fernley, 9 a.m.
March 21 at Yerington or McQueen, TBA
March 28 host Fallon/Elks Invitational
April 3-4 at Reed Invitational
April 11 at Rocklin (Calif.) Invitational or Elko, TBA
April 17 at Del Oro Invitational (Calif.), 12:30 p.m.
April 22 host Conclave of Awesomeness, 1 p.m.
April 25 at Big George Invitational, 10 a.m.
May 2 at Lowry or Sacramento, TBA
May 8-9 at Regional meet in Fernley, TBA
May 15-16 at State meet in Las Vegas, TBA
With his future secure, there is only one item left for Nathan Heck to cross off the list — an individual state title.
After consecutive second-place finishes in the pole vault, the Idaho State-bound senior aims to claim the top prize this season. Heck is arguably the state’s top vaulter regardless of classification, but the competition will be tough as Dayton’s Benji Ply and Moapa Valley’s Caleb Witsken present challenging obstacles to overcome.
Heck’s quest for the elusive state title begins at 9 a.m. Saturday when Fallon hosts its first meet of the season.
His preparation, though, began in earnest in the last several weeks as Heck, along with several teammates, competed at two Idaho meets. The standout, though, was solid in the hurdles with a sixth-place finish in the 110-meter, but had to scratch in the finals of the 300 to focus on the pole vault final.
“He’s set himself some big goals this year, and he hopes to get 16 (feet),” Fallon boys coach Steve Heck said. “With any event … if you can come in where you left off that’s huge. I think he’s got a good shot at 16. He’s not going to breeze through the season.”
Nathan Heck, though, leads a solid core of seniors who are setting their sights on capturing the program’s third state championship in five years.
With Heck leading the charge in the pole vault and 110-meter and 300 hurdles, Fallon also returns mid-distance standout Tristen Thomson, sprinters Cameron Kissick and Charles Fulks and jumper Jake Ernst.
Although the Wave returns a talented group, it will be the younger athletes who must step up to knock off defending state champ Dayton and fellow northern power Elko. Not to mention, Faith Lutheran and Desert Pines in the south will bring the speed in the sprints presenting another tough group of competition.
“We should be very competitive,” Steve Heck said. “Elko is deep and Dayton isn’t as deep, but they have their horses. I think, overall, we have a shot at a region title. State-wise, we should be in the top six. One injury and one guy steps up and you’re first place. We always approach the season as we are going to be state champions.”
Injuries took a toll last season with Kissick and Fulks, but the duo are healthy and give Fallon another two runners who can contend for a state berth.
Ernst, meanwhile, placed seventh in the 100 and 200 at state last season, but did not record a distance in the triple jump final.
Those three, with the addition of Heck, Schultz and Cole Service, are also expected to join in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.
“Those two guys, if they stay healthy, will make a huge impact,” Steve Heck said of Kissick and Fulks. “They were both able to kind of pull it out and get to state in the relays. They will help us tremendously in the 200 and 400 and in the relays. We should be really strong in the sprints.”
Joining Heck in the vault is returner Jordan Schultz, who just missed the state cut last year; however, Steve Heck said he also has a number of freshmen in place as well.
“We are hoping Jordan can squeak in and get to state,” Heck said.
As for the mid-distance, Fallon returns Tristen Thomson, who qualified for state in cross country during the fall and has his sights set on the school record in the 800.
As a sophomore, Thomson was sixth at state in the 800 and eighth in the 1,600.
He is coming off a solid season in cross country and Heck is impressed with Thomson’s conditioning heading into the season.
He will pair with Ethan Smith, another solid cross-country runner, creating a formidable duo in the 800 and 1,600. Trevor Davis adds a third threat in the mid-distance for Fallon.
“The first few days he (Thomson) looks tremendous,” Heck said. “I expect him to go under 2 minutes this year. I know he wants our school record … and I think he is capable of doing it. I think we will have a well-rounded distance team, especially in the 800 and 1,600.”
In the throws, T.J. Mauga returns although Justin Hatfield, Fallon’s best shot putter from last season, will not compete in his senior year.
Mauga, though, placed fifth at state in the discus as a freshman and Heck expects a strong season.
Matt Hutzel, meanwhile, is Fallon’s No. 2 thrower and has shown improvement, Heck said.
“Those two guys are our future,” Heck added. “Mauga put one out there the other that was a good 10 feet further than he did last year.”
Fallon’s bread and butter, the jumps, may take a step back with the loss of Aaron and Evan Bitter.
Nevertheless, Ernst leads the group as Heck expects him to contend in the long and triple jumps, along with Miguel Lebron. Both competed in the Idaho meets as a warm-up before the season.
“We will be well represented in the jumps,” Heck added.