Peaking at the right time is key for the Fallon cross country teams.
The Greenwave did just that last week at the ROP Invitational in Yerington. Now the team aims to propel its momentum at Saturday’s Northern Division I-A regional cross country meet at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno. The boys run at 10:40 a.m. and the girls at 1:15 p.m.
Boys runners Nathan Schank, Erik Endacott, Tristen Thomson, Ethan Smith and Cameron Kissick notched some of their best times of the season, albeit in a race two-tenths of a mile short of a standard course.
Schank placed second with a mark of 16:18 followed by Endacott (16:29) in third, Thomson (16:52) in ninth, Smith (17:24) in 13th and Kissick (18:25) in 18th.
On the girls’ side, Elena Murray and Patricia Leggett had solid races, too. The duo placed fourth and sixth, respectively, while Adia Sommer (21:10) took ninth and Dianna Martinez (22:00) finished 12th.
“You can’t beat going in (to regionals) with a win,” Overlie said of the boys victory at ROP. “To win like we did, and to run PR’s (personal records) … I think we are peaking at the right time. I think they have bought in, and if they run like that I think we’ll go to state with the boys.”
The boys, though, are in the hunt to qualify as a team for the first time in Overlie’s tenure. Elko and Spring Creek have distanced themselves as the top two clubs in the North, but Fallon must battle South Tahoe and Truckee for the third and final team spot.
Much like a chess match, Overlie said his runners must target and finish ahead of specific opponents all while navigating a tough course.
“We got to go out there and run our best,” he added. “Schank and Erik have been running great the last few weeks. They have to beat those three from South Tahoe, which they can do. If we can get our four in before their (South Tahoe’s) three, that would be great.”
He’s cautioned his athletes to run smart because if the sprint to the finish to early, those in chase can outkick the Wave’s runners. Hold on to long, and those Fallon aims to catch will be too far out in front.
Overlie, though, is confident in the strength of Schank and Endacott, while Ethan Overlie is returning to form after a leg injury sidelined him earlier in the season. In addition, Smith and Thomson round out the five runners.
The course, though, provides a tough challenge on the backstretch. A long, gradual hill followed by another smaller hill near the finish line, eats up runners who are not prepared.
“To run something with a hill is a different strategy,” Overlie said. “We know who we won’t run down, which is a huge advantage for us. Now we have targets painted on people’s backs. The problem is … we want to make sure we are still ourselves because if that kid is having a bad day, we’ll have a bad day.”
As for the girls, qualifying as a team is an uphill battle. Truckee sports the top three runners in the region, while Spring Creek and two-time defending state champ Elko also have strong clubs.
“They have a tougher road for sure,” Overlie said. “There are three top quality clubs, so we are looking to qualify individuals.”
Those individuals Overlie hopes make the cut are Elena Murray, Patricia Leggett and Allison Shirley. Leggett has steadily improved throughout the season, Overlie said, and is figuring out the nuances of running cross country.
According to Overlie, Murray and Leggett have the fifth and sixth best times, respectively, out of the field. The top five individuals who are do not qualify on a team earn a berth for state.
Shirley, meanwhile, did not finish the ROP race, but Overlie said she is also within striking distance.
“To qualify three girls and the whole boys team to state would be awesome,” Overlie said.