Desire and hard work put Rocky Mountain's Josh and Jordon Wallin among Idaho's track elite

rroberts@idahostatesman.comApril 20, 2013 

MERIDIAN - One of the most disappointing moments in Josh Wallin's athletic career now serves as his greatest motivation.

Two years ago at state, just as he was nearing the finish line as anchor of Rocky Mountain's 4x800 relay team, Wallin's legs gave way and he fell.

Instead of winning the 5A state championship in the event, Wallin and his younger brother Jordon, who ran the third leg, had to settle for second place after coming in as the favorites.

"When Josh fell at the line, I think that kind of drove him and it made me look at track differently," Jordon said. "It made me want to win more. It started a fire."

Said Josh: "I hate losing, so I don't really want to feel that again."

It has been nearly two years since the fall - and the entire Wallin family still remembers waking up the next day to the photo on the front page of the Idaho Statesman's Sports section - but so much has happened since.

The brothers lead the state in their respective events, and are on the cusp of breaking into the top 10 nationally.

Josh's time of 48.73 seconds in the 400 meters is the best time this spring, and Jordon's 800 time of 1:53.59 also leads Idaho competitors in all classifications, according to athletic.net.

"It's surprising and exciting at the same time," Jordon said. "I like knowing that I am fast, but then you have a target on your back. ... It's a good and bad situation."

Their rise to the top has been a swift one. Last season, Josh took second at state in the 400 (49.5), and Jordon was second in the 800 (1:54.32).

A strong offseason and an unrelenting desire to improve came to a head during the indoor season. Josh won the 400 in 48.4 at the Simplot Games in February, and Jordon took second in the 800 (1:56.4).

"He is a big supporter of me and I support him in every way that I can," Jordon said. "At Simplot when I was running the 800, he was getting yelled at because he was almost on the track yelling for me. It helps having him there knowing that he is always going to be rooting for me."

"We are probably each other's biggest fans," Josh said.

Their finishes at Simplot qualified them for the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March in New York. Senior Josh established himself as the 12th fastest 400 runner in the nation, and junior Jordon came in 14th in the 800.

Surprisingly, Jordon didn't start running the 800 as his main focus until last season, and Josh didn't join the track team until his freshman year. Although parents Paul and Molly Wallin say their boys have always been athletic, their current success is more than anyone in the family could have anticipated.

Josh grew up playing soccer and hockey, and even broke his leg playing hockey as an eighth grader. Jordon's original sport of choice was cross country.

"It just kind of fell into their lap," Molly said. "I never knew they'd run the way they do."

Rocky Mountain coach Brad Abbott knew enough about the brothers to give each of them a spot on the varsity beginning as freshmen. Abbott said desire sets them apart.

"Basically, as a track coach, I am asking these kids to train hard and to hurt really bad and to get sick. It's hard to motivate a kid to do that over and over and over again to the point where they can reach a level that lands them on a national stage," Abbott said. "They won't do it unless they have a real deep desire to be good in this event and this sport."

That desire has motivated both brothers to chase the overall state record in their respective events, and helped Josh earn a scholarship to Washington State. This is the last season the Wallin brothers will run together in high school, so they're hoping to help the Grizzlies win a third consecutive state title.

"We always have a good time, the throwers to the sprinters to the long distance, we're all together. I don't know any other teams that are like a family like that between all the events," Josh said "It's fun winning, and it's fun watching everybody succeed."

TWO BANDANNA RECORDS FALL

• The Rocky Mountain boys 4x800 relay team of Joe Giese, Ian Cavey, Justin Ross and Jordon Wallin established a meet record with their winning time of 7:53.21.

• Rocky senior Eli McCullough's throw of 58 feet, 5.5 inches bested the previous boys shot put record.

• Bishop Kelly's Mikaela Sawyer tied the meet record in the 300 hurdles with her prelim time of 45.15 seconds.

EAGLE VAULTER WINS AT OREGON RELAYS

Senior Allison Jeffries won the girls pole vault at the Oregon Relays on Friday in Eugene, establishing a meet record by clearing 12-5.

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