JEROME • Some athletes immediately turn their attention to other sports or endeavors when a season ends, ready for a break.
Dallon Suitter is not one of those athletes.
Just days after the end of his sophomore season, the Jerome runner approached his coach.
“When a few key kids graduated, he just saw a hole, a vacuum, and just said ‘I’m gonna fill that spot,’” Jerome coach Ken Nordquist said. “I think it was a day or two after the district meet last year he told me ‘I want to be district champ next year.’ I was like ‘alright, let’s make it happen.’”
Demonstrating remarkable consistency and improving throughout the season, Suitter took first at the 4A District IV meet and led the Tigers to a team win over rival Twin Falls. For those efforts, Suitter is the 2014 Times-News Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“I like winning,” Suitter said. “Getting those medals when they call your name, it’s a great motivator.”
As accomplished as he has become, Suitter had a relatively late start to the sport, competing for the first time as a freshman. Prior to that, he had focused on football, but by the start of high school, his teammates began to outsize him, the game lost its luster and Suitter searched for something new.
He remembered back to childhood, when he was typically the fastest kid in his class in the mile, and opted for cross country. Despite Suitter’s inexperience, Nordquist recognized his potential almost instantly and placed him on varsity for his very first race.
“He has a lot of natural ability and a smooth gait,” Nordquist said. “Not to get into physiologically, but he can just run the lights out around other kids. He’s also a real competitor. He seems to run best when it matters the most at big meets. That’s a pretty good combination.”
That natural talent reared its head early on this year at the season-opening Jerome Invitational at the College of Southern Idaho campus. Suitter admits he had not run as much as some runners had during the summer. Despite that, he finished second.
“For him to come out and get second against kids who had trained harder, earlier, it’s like ‘he’s gonna have a really good year,’” Nordquist said. “That’s what I meant when I said natural ability. He’s got the ability to metabolize oxygen. It’s never been tested, but he’s got it.”
Just like last year, Suitter is already looking ahead. The Tigers lose only one scoring senior from his year’s squad, so a threepeat at the district meet is a distinct possibility. Individually, with one district title already to his name, Suitter hopes to repeat and place in the top five or 10 at the state meet. The goals are not mutually exclusive.
“I love seeing these young kids come up,” Suitter said. “They’re pushing me and I like that. I think next year we’re gonna come out strong.”