Mitch Overlie can’t help but be excited about his cross country team’s potential this season.
Fallon returns the bulk of its talent from last year’s boys and girls teams, and most put in the hours over the summer getting into long-distance running shape for the fall.
“The whole offseason we had this run for fun club,” the fifth-year coach explained. “We were trying to choose a culture in Fallon for who wants to run. We had a good time. We eased into it. By the end of the year, we put in 30 miles a week, which is a good offseason. I’m excited about the opportunity to shake it up a little bit in the Northern Division I-A.”
If 2012 was any indication of the Greenwave’s potential for 2013, Overlie could see some record-setting individuals with the possibility of sending a complete team to the state meet in two months. Tanner Boone was Overlie’s best runner at state last year and senior Erik Endacott also competed in the biggest meet of the season. Boone is running cross country collegiately in Montana.
Fallon fields 10 on the boys side and nine on the girls. The top five runners’ times are scored during every meet along with two tiebreaker runners. Seven boys including Endacott, senior Nathan Schank, junior Blane Merkley, sophomores Ethan Overlie, Marco Guerro, Tristen Thomson and Michael Anderson return, while senior Allison Shirley and sophomore Jordyn Rogers return for the girls.
“I’m pretty excited about the numbers but we could always use a few more,” Overlie said. “I definitely think that the boys and girls have a good chance at doing some good stuff. I’m excited about that. We had a good offseason. They ran hard and put on a few miles. I’m excited about the chances of this team.”
Overlie said he felt strong that last year’s squad could make an impact in the postseason if the younger and inexperienced runners stepped up in time. But with experience from last season coupled with the offseason, Overlie has a more seasoned team that’s in position to make some noise this year.
“I really felt last year we had a team that could make it to state if the young guys could step up,” Overlie said. “I’ve been optimistic before where we had good numbers on the boys side. The girls overachieved last year. Every girl out-performed. We lost a lot of that senior leadership so we’re rebuilding that.”
New to the team on the boys side are junior Cameron Kissick and freshmen Ethan Smith and Terry White. Senior Elena Murray, sophomores Nichole Mariezcurrena, Kieran LeBlanc and Patricia Leggett, and freshmen Amber Revels, Amanda Pursley and Adia Sommer are running cross country for the first time.
“I’m really excited about what we can do. We have a good shot at doing some good things on both sides,” Overlie said.
Contrary to previous seasons when most of the runners participated in cross country to help get them in better shape for other sports, Overlie has noticed that this year’s team wants to compete and reach state. One of last year’s seniors helped give the Greenwave a new sense of determination about competing every week.
“Tanner really brought a special culture and attitude to our team that was needed,” Overlie said. “He kind of got some kids inspired. I feel we were just missing getting the team to buy in. I think we’ve got that now. With that buy-in, now comes the determination in practice. We even had a fun little camp and trained at the altitude at Donner Lake. We tried some neat things and the kids are excited to get out there.”
Overlie expects the same competition from across the league, including South Tahoe, Truckee and Elko. But the longtime Greenwave coach, who also heads the wrestling program, likes Fallon’s chances this fall.
“Their state champ coach is back on the saddle. They’re going to make it more competitive even though they lost a lot,” Overlie said of South Tahoe. “With that coach at the helm, they’ll be stronger.
“Elko’s super strong. I definitely think they’re going to be super tough. Spring Creek’s going to be the next competition. It’s going to be competitive and think we can sneak in.”