DEMOTTE | When Dayton Dellahan was 3 years old and somewhat spud-shaped, she inspired her aunt Linda’s creativity one day while running in the yard.
Aunt Linda began calling Dellahan “Datey Potaty” and subsequently yelled it at all of Dayton’s soccer matches. Coaches caught on, but two syllables are better than five when it comes to barking commands; therefore, the moniker simply became “Tater.”
“It stuck with me forever, and I mean forever forever,” Dellahan said. “It’s great, though. It’s unique.”
Just as the potato is one versatile vegetable -- of course it can be fried, baked, boiled, mashed, etc. -- Dellahan is a multitasking member of Kankakee Valley’s track team.
A recent commit to St. Joseph’s College for soccer and track, the senior does not settle for complacency or routines. In soccer she played almost every position in her prep career, as a manager for the wrestling team she juggled multiple responsibilities, and in track she’s run every race but the two-mile run and the hurdles.
“(Coach Lane Lewallen) trains me well, and I just try to do my best,” Dellahan said. “My teammates are unbelievable.”
The prom queen and senior class award winner for most athletic (and biggest flirt), Dellahan said she makes her own fun when she’s not playing sports. She plans to major in business management, where she will use her troubleshooting and multitasking abilities to advance her career.
Tonight, when most girls run no more than two relays, she will run all three, ranging from sprint to distance and anchoring two of those, along with the individual 400 meters, as the Times No. 7 Kougars try to defend their title at the Kankakee Valley Sectional.
“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to her,” Lewallen said. “I hope I don’t have to do that for a good couple of weeks.”
Dellahan qualified for the regional in the 400 and the one- and two-mile relays her sophomore and junior seasons, but she’s never qualified for state other than an appearance at the unofficial indoor state meet with the distance medley last March. The NCC champion 1,600 relay, which she anchors, set the school record this season at 4:05.79, a time ranked second in the area and 21st in the state as of this weekend.
On senior night Lewallen had an epiphany as the reality of Dellahan’s pending graduation hit him.
“She’s an outstanding leader,” he said. “I’m in my eighth year, and I haven’t had someone give as much of themself as she has, and it goes beyond the statistics.”
A phenomenal sophomore class, including local top sprinter Leanna Mulloy, will make or break K.V.’s sectional hopes. Dellahan, who’s eager to see her younger teammates develop, is nervous but hopeful that she can get to state with the mile relay.
“We’re a lot stronger this year,” she said. “I’m going to give it my all 110 percent of the time, and I’m out there for our girls. As much as I can help, I’m there.”
At Dellahan’s first track practice as a freshman, she walked in alone and left alone. She had an older sister on the team, but Dayton wasn’t part of any groups.
“It’s so much better now,” she said. “When I joined it was so clique-y, but now we’ve brought everyone together and become such good friends.
“This team is so strong. We’ve exceeded what we planned.”