Lalone Realizes Potential At Cortland Track-Field
BY DAVE SHEA
Growing up in Ogdensburg Peyton Lalone played several youth sports and in all the leagues at the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club.
Nearing seventh grade he had to make as decision on whether to choose high school hockey or basketball to go along with soccer and baseball.
He decided to take take his outstanding speed and athleticism to basketball to go along with soccer and baseball at Ogdensburg Free Academy.
He never regretted his choice.
At OFA he played on eight consecutive Section 10 Class B Championship teams in soccer, basketball and baseball over the course of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons and as a senior he earned all-state honors in all three sports. He also played a lead role on two New York State Final Four Class B teams in soccer and baseball.
He also finished as a two-time NAC Central Offensive MVP in soccer and was the NAC Central Basketball MVP as a senior. When he graduated in 2016 he owned school records for career assists in soccer and stolen bases and runs scored in baseball.
SWITCH TO COLLEGIATE TRACK-FIELD
Lalone moved on to SUNY Cortland and played soccer as a freshman before facing another major decision. To give up soccer and compete in track-field and/or football despite the fact that he had never played either sport in high school.
"I could see that my playing time in soccer was going to be limited so I emailed both the track and football coaches to see if they were interested. I knew I was fast and I wanted to see if I was track fast and in high school the football coaches were hoping that Section 10 would approve dual participation so soccer players could be kickers. But it didn't work out," said Lalone.
"After my freshman year at Cortland I worked out with Dave Prudhomme who had switched from soccer to football in his senior year at OFA and then enjoyed a nice college kicking career (at Ithaca College). I could kick the ball very far but I never really got the accuracy down."
So it was track-field.
And once again the decision proved to be very beneficial to the son of Scott and Kim Lalone. And for the Red Dragons Track-Field Program which regularly earns a NCAA Division III national ranking.
Having no high school experience in the sport, his sophomore year was one of learning and also dealing with hamstring issues. But he showed excellent promise in the 60 (7.23), 100 (11.04) and 200 meters (22.89) dashes. He placed 12th in the 60 and 200 at the SUNYAC Indoor Championships and 11th in the 100 meters at the Atlantic Regionals. He followed with a ninth place in the 200 while continuing to contend with the hamstring injury at the SUNYAC Outdoor Championships.
The hamstring issues reoccurred in his junior seasons but still managed to make quantum leaps highlighted by a 22.54 19th place finish in the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships after taking 10th in the SUNYACs at 22.07. He also ran a 7:14 for the third best 60 dash time time in SUNYAC preliminaries.
He overcame physical problems of the again the Spring season where he ran on Cortland's SUNYAC Champion 4x100 meter relay team which posted a 42.31 time and took fourth in the fourth in the 200 meters in 22.28.
"It is very rare for an athlete to succeed at track-field with no high school training. I think there have been three at Cortland since I have been here," said SUNY Cortland's 17-year coach Steve Patrick.
"In his first year Peyton worked very hard but his times were nothing special. He obviously had a lot of to learn and he had hamstring problems. But Peyton listens, he really listens. There are a lot of skills in sprinting and he embraced them all and as a junior he dropped his 200 meter best time from 22.45 to 21.97. He has become a clinician of sprinting."
VIRUS ENDS STELLAR SENIOR YEAR
Lalone enjoyed a stellar injury-free senior indoor season where he concentrated on the 200 dash and the 4x400 relay and earned All Atlantic Region honors for a second straight year. He was a double first place medalist at SUNYAC Championships. He led the 200 meter dash in 22.26 after a 22.17 in the preliminaries to qualify for the NCAA Championships and ran leadoff on the 4x400 relay team which approached the meet and track record with the third fastest time in Cortland history at 3:20.75.
At the Atlantic Regionals he placed second in 200 at 22.4 and led off a third place effort by the 4x400 relay team which came within 1/10 of a second of qualifying for the NCAAAs.
He was one of six Cortland athletes to qualify for the NCAA National Championships on March 13-14 at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem North Carolina.
"After Peyton's second season we determined that Peyton's hamstring problems were mechanically related. He had strength and balance issues. So I changed everything in his training knowing that we had to keep him healthy," said Cortland Coach Steve Patrick.
"And he had no issues. Moving to the 4x400 proved to be a good idea and he ran a great lead off leg for us. We are really excited for next year; Peyton will be one of three members of the relay team to return."
HEART-BREAKING END ON EVE OF NATIONALS
Six SUNY Cortland athletes headed to the nationals in great spirits looking forward to the NCAA Championship experience and for the spring season.
But then everything went from top speed to a dead stop.
After making the 10-hour drive to the nationals the Red Dragons' world and the global sports world was turned upside down. The Corona Virus pandemic infested the country from coast t coast and forced the cancelation of all NCAA Winter Championships.
"March Madness" was replaced by a March Sadness and and a haunting quiet settled over the national collegiate landscape. Campuses were emptied and all spring seasons were cancelled.
The Cortland athletes were able to go to the championship venue in uniform and ran and jumped while their coaches gathered the equipment for a long ride back to New York.
"They wanted to run and jump at the nationals. Seeing that my heart was full and broken at the same time," said Coach Patrick.
"It was so strange. We were like hours away from competing and it was over," said Lalone who is currently completing his senior year studies in his Physical Education major and Sports Management minor at home and looking to make the President's List for a second straight year while training the best he can.
"I am really taking the social distancing thing very seriously and I am enjoying being back to together with my entire family. I am running six days a week and looking forward to next year. Running the 200 and 400 has made me stronger and I didn't have any injuries. This season was really a blast, I loved it."
He will compete in his final indoor and outdoor seasons as a graduate student and do his student teaching in the Syracuse-Cortland area in the fall.
"I want to teach and coach and maybe become an athletic director some day," says Lalone.
"But I am also looking at getting into college coaching as an assistant and working my way up."
Coach Patrick is looking forward to watching Lalone continue his development and emerge as a true team leader.
"Peyton is going to be a top sprinter and in the end of the season interview he brought it up that his goal was that he needed to be a better leader," said Patrick.
"He said that he wants to do everything he can to make the team better and hold people accountable."