The quest for history begins today.
The Fallon boys track team will race for its third consecutive Division I-A state championship at 3 p.m. at Silverado High School in Las Vegas. Saturday’s action begins at 8 a.m.
The Greenwave’s journey to a school-record began with their third straight regional title at last week’s regional meet in Yerington. While Fallon blew through its competition, DI-A newcomers Mojave and Chaparral present the Wave’s toughest challenge to date.
Mojave slipped past the Cowboys, 93 ½-93, to capture the Southern DI-A regional crown last week. The newest members of the DI-A carry speed and depth, a quality used by Fallon to win consecutive titles.
“It’s going to be nightmarishly close,” Fallon coach Steve Heck said. “I was actually real concerned after the region meet, but the same thing happened down south. Those teams had some kids who didn’t (qualify). I figure the top four teams, if everything goes as seeded, can be between six to eight points.”
History is on the line for Fallon, and Heck and his athletes are well aware of the upgrade in competition coming from the southern schools. At stake is a third consecutive state title, an accomplishment no other program in school history has achieved.
Also chasing a third title is the Fallon softball team, and if all goes to plan, both will celebrate history together on Saturday.
“We’ve been talking all year about trying to get that third championship in a row,” Heck said. “Vegas is tough, but they left a crack in the door for us.”
The oddity for this meet, though, is a reversal in order. Most of Fallon’s athletes are seeded in the bottom four (out of eight), while the southern schools are at the top. Fallon, though, qualified more athletes in multiple events, while the south does not have that luxury. Still, the title is won on the track, but as times have dropped and distances and heights increased, Heck expects his team to rise up several spots to earn more points and close those gaps.
“We’ve got nothing to do but move up,” Heck said. “If everybody does their job and some kids step up, a state title is a reality. It’s going to be tight. They are all focused on getting a state championship.”
On the track, Tyson Ernst is ranked fifth in 100- and sixth in the 200-meter races. Teammate Trent Tarner ranks sixth in the 100 and fifth in the 200. The Fallon duo must track down Rayvon Thomas of Cheyenne in the 100 and D’Khari Hicks of Faith Lutheran in the 200.
Last year, Ernst recorded a meet for the ages as he won four events — the 100, 200, long and triple jumps.
“One of the advantages we have is in the sprints and jumps,” Heck said. “On a good day, they could move up a couple spots and that would be huge. It would not be surprising to see Trent and Tyson take some time off. They are gamers … and I would not be shocked if one of them came out as a winner.”
On paper, the 800 may be the best closest race of the meet. Fallon’s Nathan Schank is the No. 2 seed after he won the regional with a time of 2 minutes, 00.24 seconds. Mohamad Abdirahman of Desert Pines (1:59.5) is ranked No. 1, while at least four other athletes are within 1.5 seconds.
In the hurdles, the field received a big break when Jalon Dean of Mojave was disqualified in the 300. Fallon’s Nick Marsan is ranked fourth, while Nathan Heck is sixth.
In the 100, Marsan looks to defend his title as the third seed and Heck is No. 6. Heck, though, is in contention in the pole vault as he ranks third with a height of 13 feet.
“Obviously, that kid (Dean) is very talented,” Steve Heck said. “You don’t want to see that to happen to anybody, but it opens the door for everybody. He was far and above everybody and now it gives Nick a shot to pullout a win.”
Fallon’s longtime tradition of excelling in the jumps continues. The Wave hoarded three state berths in the long and triple jumps. Beau Marshall (No. 5), Ernst (No. 5) and Jake Ernst (No. 7) aim to secure much needed points in the triple jump.
In the long jump pit, Tyson Ernst is fifth, Marshall seventh and Marsan eighth.
“Historically, coach Paul (Orong) has those kids ready,” Steve Heck said. “Tyson, his last few years, he’s come out and won on his last jump.”
Although Fallon missed qualifying in the 4×400 relay, the Wave send three relays to state. The 4×100 relay has a tough challenge ahead as Chaparral ran about 1.6 faster in the regional. The 4×200 team is sixth and the 4×800 is seventh.
“I think all of our relay teams have a chance at a medal because there is so much more there than what we showed last week,” Steve Heck said.