Fall Creek Junior High Cross Country Looks Forward After Successful Seasons
James Ziino, head coach for the Fall Creek Junior High boys and girls cross country and track teams, says he was proud of his runners efforts both in 2020 and this last season, especially given COVID-19 challenges.
“There was a lot of uncertainty for the (2020) season, especially since the spring track season was cancelled,” Ziino says. “There were numerous conversations between myself, Coach Lisa Mayhew and our Athletic Director Brett Clark about how to proceed. Through these conversations, we discussed the importance of the safety of the athletes, and making sure they understood the importance of following the protocols that were provided from the district and the Fishers Health Department.”
Ziino says spacing was the biggest adjustment factor for the kids.
“As our numbers grew when the (2020) season started, our coaching staff of three grew to five by adding two volunteer coaches,” Ziino says. “This proved vital, because we were able to group kids into smaller numbers and space them out throughout the workouts. Some of the practices included working groups on certain sections of the course, where kids did not really see each other until the end of practice.”
The teams eventually had successful seasons.
“In 2020 the girls team was HSE district champion for the third year in a row,” Ziino says. “They were third at the Riverside invite, and were fifth place at the Hamilton County Middle School Cross Country Championship. The boys team was second place at the HSE district meet, first place at the Riverside invite, and first place at the Hamilton County Middle School Cross Country Championship.”
When he is not busy coaching, Ziino is also a teacher.
“I actually teach at Fishers Junior High (FJH), and I am the ENL (English as a new language) teacher in the building,” Ziino says. “I came to coach at Fall Creek Junior High because when the building opened, they had an opportunity to build a program from scratch, plus FJH already had their coaching staff in place.”
Ziino says the cross country program at Fall Creek Junior High is successful because of the parents, athletes and coaches.
“It needs all three to come together to be competitive year in and year out,” Ziino says. “We can’t thank our parents enough for their trust to work with their athletes. I’m telling people to look for a call-out meeting next spring, and during the summers we host the Summer Runnin’ series as well as Camp Iwannarun (for incoming sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students).”
During the 2021 season, Coach Ziino’s track and field team swept the district meet, for both the boys and girls. After another successful season, the team is looking forward to the 2022 season come spring.