Churchill County is floating on a sea of Greenwave mania this week.
“The town is all abuzz about it,” said KKTU-FM radio broadcaster Larry Barker. “A large crowd gathered at the high school on Saturday night to greet the teams as they returned from southern Nevada.
“Local businesses have congratulatory messages posted on their electronic signs. People talk about as they go about their daily lives. There is pride in Greenwave sports again.”
It’s is time to change the name of Fallon, Nevada to Titletown, Nevada. The Greenwave, after all, enjoyed a state tournament bonanza last week that few schools, if ever, have ever enjoyed in this state.
The Greenwave boys golf team won the Class 3A state title on Tuesday at Hidden Valley Country Club in Reno. On Saturday, the Greenwave hit the trifecta, winning the baseball and softball state championships at Virgin Valley High in Mesquite and taking the boys track state title at Del Sol High in Las Vegas.
That’s four championships in the span of five days. That’s three more state titles (boys golf won in 2006) than those four Greenwave teams combined had won in the last two decades.
“So much emotion,” baseball coach Phil Pinder told the Lahontan Valley News on Saturday. “I got to be honest with you. We got our asses handed to us for 20 years. Twenty years. Our kids have fought just to be competitive and to get this is just huge.”
The four Greenwave state title teams have changed the direction of Churchill County High sports forever.
“The day we first met we sat down and said that was our goal, to win the state championship,” Greenwave golfer Matt Vanderbeek told the Lahontan Valley News. “It’s a great thing when you work hard and accomplish it.”
The heroes are many.
Vanderbeek led the boys golf team by winning the Class 3A medalist honors, shooting a 144 to lead teammates Tyler Schroder (156), Thaaron Kalt (165), Aaron Evett (165), Miles Adams (169) and Dillon Alerge (183).
The Greenwave won state over second-place Lowry by 13 strokes. The state title is just the second in school history for the boys golf team after also winning in 2006 (Class 4A).
The baseball team, led by coach Lester de Braga, got outstanding pitching from starters Alonzo Williams, Roman Hucks and Colton Oney in the state tournament. All three pitched complete games as the Greenwave beat Lowry (1-0) and Boulder City twice (12-2, 5-0).
Oney struck out 10 and pitched a 5-0, six-hit shutout over Boulder in the title game. He also had two hits and drove in a run.
“I was just hitting my spots,” Oney told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I really wasn’t worried about striking them out because I knew my defense would make the plays.”
The state title is the baseball team’s ninth overall and the first since 1978.
The softball team also got outstanding pitching in victories over Elko (3-1 and 9-1) and Boulder City (4-1) at the state tournament.
Jenny Rechel was 4-for-4 in the title game victory over Elko with two RBI, a stolen base. Jill Pinder struck out seven to earn the Greenwave’s first softball state title since 1988 and third overall.
The boys track team beat second place Elko by 26.5 points (133.5-107) in winning its first state title (third overall) since 1986.
The Greenwave dominated the relay events, winning the 400-meter relay andf the 100-meter relay and finishing third in the 200 and 800 relays.
Josh Morrison and Fike Johnson were members of the 800 and 400 relays. Tyson Ernst, Charlie Heck, Rosalio Silva and Shawntrell Hubbard each ran in both the 100 and 200 relays. Silva was also a member of the 400 relay along with Joe Floyd. Tanner Boone and Aaron Richardson joined Morrison and Johnson on the 800 relay.
It was definitely a team effort for the Greenwave boys track team.
Hubbard won an individual state title in the 100 meters with a time of 11.29 and also finished second in the 200 at 22.60.
Ernst won an individual state title in the long jump (22-05.5) and was third in the triple jump (42-04).
Heck finished third in the pole vault (13-feet. Beau Marshall was fourth in the triple jump (41-0.75) and Trenton Bliss was sixth (40-10). Floyd was sixth in the long jump (20-02).
Sean Bredwell (41.73), Seth Price (42.79) and Nick Marsan (44.78) were fourth, fifth and eighth, respectively, in the 300 hurdles. Marsan (15.77), Bredwell (16.10) and Price (16.22) were third, fifth and sixth in the 110 hurdles.
Morrison was fourth (2:02.55) in the 800 and Johnson was fifth (2:10.31). Johnson was fourth (52.06) in the 400 and Silva was sixth (52.55). Boone was sixth (10:29.27) in the 3200 and seventh (4:46.89) in the 1600.
All of the state champions in boys golf, baseball, softball and boys track will be honored on Wednesday by Fallon mayor Ken Tedford Jr. The celebration is more than fitting and deserved. And the Churchill County community is going to savor every minute of it.
“As the broadcaster of Greenwave sports for the past 23 years I saw over-and-over again the pain and frustration that Greenwave players, coaches, parents, alumni and fans went through as the losses mounted,” said Barker, who also handles public address duties at many Greenwave baseball and softball games.
“It was hard for the townspeople to keep that feeling of pride when their teams were constantly getting beaten. It was hard for coaches to get students interested in playing for teams that had little or no chance of making the playoffs, let alone winning state championships. Pride in Greenwave sports ebbed and as the years and decades went on, an entire generation of Fallon folks grew up knowing only the pain of losing and not the joy of winning.”
That is now over.
And it all started with the decision to jump to Class 3A starting last fall after 22 frustrating and fruitless years in Class 4A. The boys golf team won state in 2006. The volleyball team won state in 1999 and 2000. That was it as far as team state titles for the Greenwave in 4A.
One year in 3A and, well, they now have to build a bigger trophy case.
“Now Fallon is back in the 3A where it belongs, competing against schools its own size in a league where it can be competitive and successful,” said Barker, who is also a former sports editor of the Lahontan Valley News. “The results have been gratifying. Last fall, the football team made it to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years (they last made the postseason in 1989, their only 4A playoff appearance).
“In the winter, both basketball teams went to the playoffs and the girls team advanced to the state tournament for first time in seven years. Then in the spring it all came together.”
The Greenwave almost earned a fifth state title last week. The girls track team finished third at state as Madison Murray won an individual state championship in the triple jump (34-04.5) and the long jump (16-05) and finished second in the 100 meters (12.93).
The 100 relay team of Mary Decker, Liz Archuleta, Elena Murray and Madison Murray also won a state title and the 400 relay of Alexis Romero, Baylee Koenig, Elena Murray and Archuleta was second.
Esther Mauga finished second in the discus (123-09) and Julianne Hale was second in the high jump (5-2). Elena Murray was third in the 300 hurdles and fifth in the 100 hurdles.
It was quite a five days for the Greenwave, five days that will live forever in the memories of the citizens of Churchill County.
“As with any small town, there’s a great deal of community pride in the people who grew up and live here,” Barker said. “The high school sports programs are often a focal point of that pride.”
There’s a lot to be proud of with the kelly green and white these days.