Wind blows in winter sports bringing new excitement
November 9, 2017
By the time you're reading this with your cup of coffee, before you begin your day, Fallon sports for the fall is officially over or the Greenwave football team upset Spring Creek and is competing in the state playoffs next week.
This fall has generated excitement in all sports for both Fallon and Oasis, which began its first year in the 1A in volleyball and cross country, but winter sports will be here before you think about which set of LED Christmas lights to buy. The football program has had the best season of all the fall sports, with the tennis programs coming in second after sending a pair of doubles teams to the state tournament. Golf and cross country put up competitive seasons while the soccer programs struggled to win but still improved, which is more important. The volleyball team had a down year compared to last year, failing to make the postseason but there's always next year.
Tryouts for winter sports begin this weekend for both Fallon and Oasis Academy with games beginning after Thanksgiving. Yes, in three weeks, it will be time to pack the gyms and root for your Greenwave and Bighorns.
To get you ready for the upcoming winter season, here are four things to be excited about for both schools.
Always the first mate, never the skipper
Most people recognize Donald Schank as that longtime insurance agent who strives to give his clients the best coverage possible.
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In his spare time, he devoted many hours to the Greenwave basketball program as an assistant under Bert Serrano for 10 years, Corey Williams for 12 years and then Brad Barton for four. Now, Schank gets his first crack at being a high school varsity head coach as he was picked to lead the Bighorns this season.
Schank brings more than two decades of experience, including coaching the Jam On It and AAU programs, and is more than capable of putting the Bighorns on the map in the 1A. It won't be easy — it never is with the first season — but Schank and Oasis Academy are a perfect fit. You're not going to want to miss a Bighorns game this season.
Will the Lady Wave win state again?
Fallon overcame adversity last season when one of its star players went down with an injury for several weeks. Players stepped up because they knew this team could win state. And they did.
The Lady Wave defeated Lowry to win its first-ever NIAA-sanctioned state tournament with a thrilling victory over the Lady Buckaroos in Las Vegas. Emotions flooded the court and into the lobby after the game as Fallon crowned its first girls basketball champion since the 1920s when girls sports were at club-level status.
Fallon lost one starter to graduation, making the Lady Wave an obvious favorite to win the state title this year. But nothing's guaranteed and while winning one state title is difficult, it's more challenging to win back-to-back. Fallon hasn't won back-to-back state titles in any sport other than softball since the 1970s.
This year's team will be fun and electrifying to watch. Elmo Dericco Gymnasium should have standing-room only tickets available this winter. And if Fallon performs to expectations, you can catch them at the state tournament in Reno, playing under the lights of Lawlor Events Center in February.
Lucky number 14
There's been no doubt that Fallon produces high-quality wrestlers every season. Just look at the state record book.
Two years removed since winning the school's first wrestling championship, the Greenwave fell short last year in repeating. It came down to the final bout that saw Fallon take second behind Spring Creek. What was impressive, though, about Fallon's run is it did it without a full line-up.
It was amazing to see Spring Creek fall apart in the consolation round as the Spartans were able to fill all 14 weight classes while Fallon struggles to fill 10 every year. But if Fallon can come closer to that 14 mark, it will be difficult for any team in the state to prevent the Greenwave from winning state.
Fallon won state two years ago with a small line-up and almost pulled it off again last year. With multiple state finalists returning this year, if Fallon can fill all 14 weight classes and stay healthy, expect another parade in March.
New coach but familiar face
Before Anne Smith coached the Lady Wave, Chelle Dalager was at the helm for more than a decade, taking Fallon to the state tournament in both the 4A and 3A before stepping down.
While not at the high school, Dalager continued coaching at the middle school. She helped the seventh- and eighth-grade boys basketball teams develop so they could be more prepared going into high school.
Now, Dalager is at the helm of the high school boys program and is hoping to see that earlier work pay off this winter. The Greenwave boys team has struggled to climb into the top echelon of the 3A but this year could be different. Dalager sees the potential in her team from the summer workouts, including a camp at Gonzaga. It's about putting it all together this year for the Greenwave and when the season enters February, the community could be talking about how both basketball teams are competing in the state tournament.
Best of luck to both the Greenwave and Bighorns this upcoming winter season.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org