LINCOLN n Illinois State track and field Coach Elvis Forde was looking for help and he believes it is on the way now that Lincoln High School star Tony Dallavalle has signed a national letter of intent to become a Redbird.
"Tony is a tremendous athlete," Forde said. "I know from a national caliber standpoint, he did exceptionally well in the Junior Olympics in the decathlon."
The 6-foot, 195-pound Dallavalle scored 6,602 points in the young men's decathlon last summer to place third in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics at Indianapolis.
"He's a good long jumper and hurdler," added Forde. "He's also a good 100 and 400 guy. He's got a lot of areas he can help our program.
"He's got good size. He reminds me of (Olympian) Dan O'Brien, that type of build. He's got that determination that is required from decathletes and he can come back and do good in individual events."
Forde expects Dallavalle to make an immediate impact.
"I know for a fact he will score right off the bat in the decathlon (in the Missouri Valley Conference Championships)," Forde said. "Indoors in the heptathlon, he'll score in that. By the time he gets here, we look for him to be a good hurdler. We need a good hurdler."
Dallavalle, who plans to study video game design, led the Pantagraph area in the long jump last year with a best of 23 feet, 0 inches. Only nine athletes in area history have gone farther.
His school record of 14.48 seconds in the 110-meter high hurdles tied for ninth in area history.
"ISU is a good decision for Tony," said Lincoln coach Doug Benz. "It has solid academics and a competitive athletic program. ISU offers a good athlete study program and has a good system of checks and balances to ensure that athletes with heavier class loads will succeed in the classroom."
Benz believes ISU jumps coach Tim Thompson can help Dallavalle.
"Athletically, I think Tony will do well at ISU," Benz said. "Tim's work ethic, discipline and no-nonsense approach to track will be good for Tony to thrive as an athlete."
Dallavalle chose ISU after also considering Eastern Illinois, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Northern Iowa.
"(ISU) was the first good school to offer me a full ride besides West Point," Dallavalle said. "It was close to home. From what I hear, it's a good school. They have a good track program. It seems to be on the rise."
Dallavalle said he likes the level of competition the decathlon offers.
"If you win, you get to be considered the best athlete," he said. "It's what I've been trying for forever."