Herald All-Area | Lakewood Ranch's Talia Falco named Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year

adell@bradenton.comJune 13, 2014 

Talia Falco, Lakewood Ranch track and field

TTOMPKINS@BRADENTON.COM

Sometimes greatness can be spawned under the most unlikely circumstances.

A good example is Lakewood Ranch junior Talia Falco, who won two gold medals at this year's state track and field meet and finished third in another event.

For her improbable heroics, Falco is the 2014 Herald All-Area Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Nearly all her life, Falco concentrated on soccer and turned herself into one of the area's best players.

As a freshman, Falco was on the track team at Riverview when she was asked if she would help the team and do the triple jump at the district meet. She had never participated in the event, but was good enough to advance to the region meet.

Now 17, Falco showed she is a quick learner this year when she won the triple jump and the high jump and finished third in the long jump in the Class 3A state meet.

"I didn't do any track until my freshman year, so I am not sure how all this happened. I guess it just comes naturally," Falco said. "Strength is important in the triple jump because the pounding really wears down the legs. I think the high jump is more about technique. You don't have to be able to jump high if your technique is good."

Falco's steady improvement is impressive. She made it a clean sweep in the triple jump, winning the district

and region before turning in a personal-best distance of 38 feet, 2 inches at states. She cleared the bar at 5-4 in her final attempt to win the high jump.

The question for Falco is where does she go from here?

It seems soccer is moving into the background.

Lakewood Ranch head track Mark Napier said Falco is a natural for the heptathlon when she gets to college and has the talent to compete at the Division I level. The women's heptathlon in college consists of the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run.

"We are going to be working with her on the javelin and shot put this summer. She ran a PR (personal record) in the hurdles this year and long-jumped 15 feet off the wrong leg," Napier said. "She is such a talent across the board that you would want to make her a multi-event person. She is a diamond in the rough because her talent is so raw."

Napier says Falco doesn't know good she is and how good she can become and predicts she will triple-jump more than 40 feet next year.

"Talia is a lot better than she thinks and is very coachable," Napier said. "She loves to compete, is not cocky at all and has a great demeanor. She is just starting to come into her own."

Falco isn't sure which is her best event, but track is at the forefront of her life now.

"Track is new and exciting to me, and I think I am going to focus more on that. I think it's my best chance to get a college scholarship," Falco said.

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