Contributor: The Nerd
We've yet to see a formal announcement (do high schools even make formal announcements about XC coaching changes?), but we have confirmed that Jake Smrcina is stepping down as the Fremont girls XC head coach. Smrcina is making this change to spend more time with his infant daughter. Sources tell us that Beth McMahon, previously an assistant for the Fremont boys XC team, has been tabbed as the next head coach for the Fremont girls.
Coach Smrcina is a Fremont High grad, posting solid 2:00/4:32/9:49 times in high school before competing at Nebraska Wesleyan. Her earned his Masters' degree at UNK and served as a volunteer coach at Fremont before taking over the head coach role in 2016. He will continue to teach science at FHS.
There have only been four head coaches in the history of the FHS girls program. Diane Hento led the team from its founding in 1983 (three years after the first girls' State championship) until 2009. During Hento's 27-season tenure, the FHS girls won a State title in 2002 and placed second in 1987, 1988 and 2008. Beth McMahon coached the team from 2010 to 2012 and Bryce Lambley led the team from 2013 to 2015. The Lady Tigers qualified for State the last five years and earned 2nd-place trophies each of the last four years. Fremont likely would have won at least one State title over the last four years if not for the dominating streak by Lincoln East. Ellie Dahl captured the Class A State title in 2019 and 2021, joining Joslyn Dalton (2003) as the only other FHS girl's individual winner.
Beth McMahon has been assisting her husband, Sean McMahon, with the FHS boys' XC team, and we expect a smooth transition. Since Beth's first stint as the girls' coach, the Tiger boys have earned six podium finishes, including State titles in 2018, 2020 and 2021. While the 2021 State girls squad included five seniors, the Tigers return Maris Dahl and Chloe Hemmer from that team. Although 2022 may be a bit of a down year with the loss of so many seniors, Fremont's youth program promises to yield dividends in the next few years.
More often than not, we see high-performing high school coaches missing quality family time to attend to their athletes. Coach Smrcina is arguably the best coach in the history of Fremont girls XC, and we applaud him for putting his family first. We'd be surprised if we don't see him on the course this fall as a spectator, and odds are that he'll return to coaching once his young family gets a bit older.