With a solid senior core returning for its last hoorah, the Fallon track and field team is posed to have a breakout year on both the boys’ and girls’ divisions.
The Greenwave returns seniors Bryan Duenas, Broder Thurston, Drake Copley, Jacob Weber, J.R. Demillo, Clayton Steelmon, Nathan Doyle, Micah Whitaker, Nathaniel Klein, Justin Cathey, Trevor Brown, Jordyn Dahl, Chelsea Clevenger, Brynlee Shults, Emily Evett, and Shelby and Sierra Hickox to lead an exciting group of experienced and new members to go along with a handful of foreign-exchange students.
“They’ve been working hard and improving. They just work so hard,” Fallon girls coach Paul Orong said. “This is the hardest working track team I’ve ever had. We put it out there that this is a team and there are no weak links. Every single one of them goes out there and they don’t complain.”
Taking over for Steve Heck, who retired last year after guiding the boys program for many years, is Keith Sluyter. Assisting Orong and Sluyter are Kris Hadley, Ray East, Mandie Lister and Brendan Orong.
Both Sluyter and Paul Orong expect their senior class to lead by example this season as Fallon strives to be the top team in both the boys and girls divisions.
“All seniors are expected to act as leaders for the team,” Sluyter said. “They are there to set an example for the younger team members as well as teach them how to do the warm ups and workouts.
Kyndal Collins, a sophomore, returns after barely missing out on state last year and will lead in the sprints, including the 100 and 200. Along with Collins, Evett and sophomore Tiffany Sorensen will also run the sprints. Sorensen also competes in the throws.
“Kyndal’s getting better. We’ve been working on her start,” Orong said. “Tiffany is probably one of the best throwers in the region. It’s a weird combination.”
In the mid- and long-distance runs, sophomore Savannah Robinson, freshman Makayle Mathisen and Dahl will be counted on this season.
“We have enough girls to run a 4x800, which is crazy,” Orong said. “Mayla has improved like crazy. She’s the glue who holds everything together.”
Fallon will also be strong in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays with Sierra Hickox, Evett, Shults and Collins will run the 4x100 and junior Ali Lister, both Hickox girls and freshman Aisha Sharron will run the 4x200. The 4x400 includes freshman Hailey Guerrero, Shelby Hickox, Shults and Sharron.
In the hurdles, Orong said the team is strong and has depth. Freshmen Fiona White and Vera Vaz, Guerrero, Mathisen, the Hickox twins, Shults, Evett and Sharron can run both the 100 and 300 events.
“It used to be one of our weaknesses and now it’s one of our strengths,” Orong said.
Lister is on pace to break the school record in the pole vault and she’s only a junior. In addition to running the 300 hurdles, Lister is nearing the 10-foot mark.
“She’s in position to go to state in the vault,” Orong said. “We have a good vaulting crew. They all made height their first time (last weekend).”
In the throws, it begins with Sorensen and Clevenger, who are in position to make some noise at regionals and go to state.
“Tiffany is going to be leading the core,” Orong said. “Clevenger’s a hard working girl. She’s tough. I like her work ethic.”
The jumps, Orong’s specialty, will be one of several highlights this season.
Led by Shults, who took third in the triple jump last year at state, the group is at least six girls deep in both the long and triple jumps. Sierra Hickox, junior Glenda Lee, Sharron and Lister give Fallon a powerful presence in the pits. senior Luna Jalocha and Robinson will lead the high jump crew.
“We just want to get better every week and continue to work hard. To be there at state and be ready and prepared,” Orong said.
The forte of the boys team is on the track in the sprints and hurdles.
“We need all of our athletes to practice and compete at the highest level of their abilities and beyond,” Sluyter said. “Every competitor must approach every challenge as if they know they have already won.”
The team of Thurston, Copley, and juniors Reid Clyburn and Colton Peterson broke the school record in both the 4x100 and 4x200 races last season to win the regional title. All but Clyburn will also lead the team in sprints along with Steelmon and junior Bryan Duenas, last year’s state qualifier in both the long and triple jumps.
“They’ve been working on their starts,” Orong said about his sprinters.
Clyburn leads the hurdle crew, which also possesses depth with Klein, Brown, Weber, and juniors Trevor East and Mathisen all capable of placing at regional.
“They all have improved,” Orong said.
In the mid- and long-distance races, Demillo, Cathey, senior Tyler Marsh and sophomore Bryan Ugalde give Fallon experience and all will run in the 4x400 and 4x800 relays. Sophomore William Dick also provides depth and ran well in Fallon’s home meet.
Whitaker returns for his second year to lead the throwing group, which includes Nathan Doyle, senior Austin Lunderstadt and Weber. Whitaker and Weber also pole vault along with Brown, senior Richard Saunooke, and freshman Will Swisher.
In the jumps, junior Angelo Vann and Cathey will compete in the high jump while Duenas leads the triple and long jumps. East, Thurston and Klein also show promise and will be looked upon to make an impression throughout the season as they go for a state berth. Thurston learned how to jump just this past summer.
“We’re deep. We try to make it a strength,” Orong said about his jumping crew.