Regionals puts best talent on display
From the diamond to the pool, this weekend has a flavor for all sports fans.
The Fallon softball team is chasing its fourth straight state tournament appearance and third title in four years, while the baseball team aims to reach the big dance for the third time in three years.
The boys track team aims to claim another regional crown, while the swimmers shoot for another haul of state qualifiers.
After a curious losing streak in the middle of the season, the softball team is once again rolling, and it needs to be. The third-seeded Lady Wave take on No. 2 Lowry, but Bill Archer’s club must get past Fernley or a sneaky Dayton club to once again play for the state title.
Rileigh Ricken and Ali Tedford have climbed the mountain before. They must show the youngsters the path to the top.
While the softball team has a championship pedigree, their male counterparts do not.
It has been four years since the Wave hoisted the state trophy. This year’s club, however, possesses the offensive firepower to snap the drought.
Fallon is hitting .353 as a team and rides a number of arms needed to navigate a difficult tournament.
The question for them, though, is can they focus long enough to nab consecutive wins in one day against quality opposition? The mental grind of baseball is long and grueling, but there is no question Lester de Braga’s team has the resources to win.
Fallon can hit, run and pitch, but the Achilles heel is base running. Too many times this season the Wave has run themselves into outs and out of runs.
If the habit continues, they may run themselves out of the playoffs earlier than expected.
Over on the track, Fallon has several athletes who will compete for individual titles, which may lead to a team title.
Sprinter Trent Tarner has rapidly improved since the beginning of the season and adds depth to the 100- and 200-meter races as well as the relays.
Nathan Heck has proved to be one of the best pole vaulters and hurdlers in the state. He is consistent and fast in the hurdles, and reaching new heights in the vault.
With three events under his belt, coach Steve Heck may place him in the 100- or 200-meter races or a relay.
Beau Marshall is jumping at a solid pace and will contend in the triple and long jumps, while throwers Justin Hatfield and T.J. Mauga provide depth in events the Wave has struggled with for several years.
The Lady Wave, meanwhile, may have a shot if Elena Murray and Patricia Leggett pull a Herculean effort and each win four individual events.
As for the swimmers, Fallon is once again growing its program and competitiveness under second-year head coach Ken Grimes.
His son, Kyle Grimes, is perhaps the fastest swimmer in the North and will put on a show at regionals. He is the best chance for an individual state qualifier, although Fallon’s boys and girls relay teams may be able to crack the top four and reach state.
By the end of this weekend, however, Fallon’s continued rise and relevance in the Nevada sports landscape will grow.
The Wave should land both the baseball and softball teams in the state tournament, while the track athletes and swimmers will reinforce Fallon’s power status.
Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org