About this series
Coming up with a short list and then ranking the 10 greatest athletes in the history of each YAIAA high school was a daunting task. For sure, there is no scientific approach. But after two years of interviews, research and roundtable discussions, we are presenting as fair an attempt as possible to create an objective list on a decidedly subjective topic.
OUR CRITERIA: 1. The only accomplishments considered were those achieved while competing in high school varsity athletics. If an athlete earned a college scholarship, that was also factored in. 2. Accomplishments outside the setting of high school varsity sports and accomplishments after high school were not taken into account. 3. Athletes who attended more than one local high school were only evaluated at the school where they had the most varsity success. 4. Female athletes were rated by how they dominated their own sports not how they would fare going head-to-head against male athletes.

Your turn
If you d like to comment or offer a differing opinion on this list, we d love to hear from you. Each Sunday, we ll present your feedback on opinions on page 2 of the York Sunday News sports section - The Rundown. E-mail your thoughts to Sports Editor Chris Otto at cotto@ydr.com or mail them to: Greatest Athletes, c/o Chris Otto, 1891 Loucks Road, York 17408.

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An injury always seemed to get in the way for Brendon Falconer, the Olympic hopeful.

Strange then, how one also brought him his greatest love.

A bad hamstring ruined a state hurdle title in high school. A bad foot ruined the Olympic Track and Field Trials. A bad hip eventually ruined his career.

But it was a broken foot in college that got Falconer, a 1993 Northeastern High graduate, to the doctor's office. There, he met a gymnast with a ruptured Achilles' tendon.

She would become his wife.

"All of the (injuries) were tough, but good things came out of all of them," he said.

Falconer was an all-around track and field star at every level, from the time he was in junior high all the way to college at Kent State and beyond.

"He was born with it all. He had the go-fast genes," said Tim Walker, his track and field coach at Northeastern. "Some guys can be born that way and never see their potential, but he worked it out about as far as you could expect."

Falconer grew into a Class AA state champion long jumper and hurdler in high school. But he was only scratching the surface.

It was at Northeastern, while he waited out more injuries, that he fooled around with other events -- like the shot put and discus -- and did stunningly well. He ended up triple-jumping as well as he long-jumped. He set a school sprinting record because he wasn't able to hurdle one spring.

The full realization hit just before college, when he tried the decathlon at the Keystone State Games and blew everyone away.

He then convinced his coaches at Kent State.

"It was something I could pour myself into," Falconer said.

The decathlon is an exhausting, numbing series of events stretched over two days. It starts with the 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 meters. It moves on to the 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters on Day 2.

At Kent, Falconer was a conference champion in the long jump and school-record holder in the decathlon. He was an All-American. He was the top American finisher (third overall) in the 1998 NCAA Decathlon Championships.

He moved to Indianapolis to train with a national track and field club.

He even qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif., in 2000. He was in fourth place going into the fourth event, when he ruptured a foot arch while high-jumping.

He pulled out. He figured he would have other chances.

"I had the talent that if I had a good day I could get that third spot and go to the (Olympic) Games. I really felt I had a good shot there."

He recovered quickly only to have a degenerative hip problem force him out again in 2001. Even rehabbing for five months at the Olympic training center in San Diego couldn't bring him back.

Falconer is vice president and controller of Irwin Union Bank and lives in Indianapolis. He is married and has two young daughters.
Falconer is vice president and controller of Irwin Union Bank and lives in Indianapolis. He is married and has two young daughters. (Submitted)

"I thought it would be hard for me (to retire). So much of my identity was wrapped up in this, and I was so passionate about it. But for me it was not really that hard. I was married and working full-time. We were ready to start a family. I just turned the page on it."

His master's degree in business led him to become a certified public accountant. He stayed in
Indianapolis and is now vice president and controller of Irwin Union Bank.

He and his wife, Danielle, have two girls, Kendall and Quinn, both under 5.

Looking back, his injuries frustrated and disappointed, but each one took him to another place, usually a better one.

Even the hip injury, "was a reason to end it and move on. . . . I see a lot of guys trapped, and they keep going even when they don't have it anymore mentally or physically. This made sure I wasn't that guy.

"I started a new chapter in my life."
fbodani@ydr.com; 771-2104.