Sailors kicks off track and field season Wednesday

The 2022 Mapleton Sailor track and field team, (from left): Athletic Director Carrie Dean, Helen Burruss, Alex Burnett, Opal Burruss, Caleb Lewis, Joe Shepard and Head Coach Ed Dillahay. (Photo by Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

New coach at helm for 2022

March 15, 2022 — The Mapleton track and field team travels to Waldport Wednesday for the first event of the 2022 season. The Sailors will join Alsea, Eddyville, Elkton, Siletz Valley, Toledo and host Waldport for the Run for the Clover.

For this first event of the 2022 season, Mapleton will be led a by a face brand new to the Mapleton community: track and field coach Ed Dillahay.

Dillahay only arrived at Mapleton High a month and a half ago, just before track season started, when he was hired as a P.E. teacher for the district.

When he took the P.E. teaching job for Mapleton School District, it marked a return to teaching after selling firefighting gear all over southern Oregon for the last 18 years. Dillahay had grown tired of traveling and not being around to see his two children grow up. He and his family live on Smith River, near Reedsport, so he still has a bit of a drive for work each day, but nothing compared to the thousands of miles he racked up as a salesman.

Though 2022 will be this first year leading a track program, Dillahay brings years of coaching experience to the position.

Before his nearly two-decade career in sales, Dillahay taught and coached baseball and basketball at South Umpqua High. He had an opportunity to coach college baseball in Texas but had just met his wife and he chose to stay in Oregon and start a family, a decision he has never regretted. Today, he and his wife have two children, a daughter in fourth grade and a son in seventh.

Over the years, he has dabbled in coaching, working with pitchers at Reedsport High for example, but this will be his first full time coaching job in almost two decades.

As the upriver community always does, they have welcomed the new coach with open arms. This, along with the five strong athletes on the Sailor track and field team this year, have Dillahay excited for the season.

There are three boys and two girls on the Mapleton team.

First, senior Joe Shepard. Shepard comes in with high expectations for the year. Last year, he finished sixth in the state in the triple jump competition and was just a foot from breaking the school record.

“Joe is kind of our big stud,” Dillahay said. “His goal this year is to break the school record in the triple jump and see if he can take state. He’s a big strong kid and he’s motivated.”

Next, the Sailors have freshman Alex Burnett. According to Dillahay, Burnett will compete in one of the sprints, a medium distance race and possibly high jump.

“So much potential with Alex,” said Dillahay. “Such a good kid. He’s the only athlete in my P.E. class so he does a great job working with all the other kids.”

Sophomore Caleb Lewis will run sprints for MHS and possibly long and triple jump also.

“I’d like to see Caleb run the 400 because he’s really fast,” said Dillahay. “Maybe some other events where he can use his speed too.”

The two girls on the team are sisters, Opal and Helen Burruss.

Senior Opal is, along with Shepard, one of the team’s leaders. During the spring sports season, she also competes for an Ultimate Frisbee team that travels all over the northwest. Because of her Ultimate obligation, Opal will be forced to miss some track meets, but when she’s available she will be counted on to be one of the main point scorers for the team.

“Opal is such an athletic and aggressive athlete,” said Dillahay.

Helen, who is a freshman, also plays Ultimate, Frisbee so she too will miss some meets. But when she is on the track, she will be a force this year and, according to her coach, for years to come.

“Opal and Helen’s mom Mizu holds the Mapleton 300m record,” said Dillahay. “My goal is for Helen to break that record by her junior or senior year. She can do it, too.”

The Run for the Clover, in Waldport, starts at 3 p.m. today.

Mapleton’s first home meet is March 30 when five other teams join the Sailors for a 1A Special District 2 League Meet. Events start at 4 p.m.