Note: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 7.
Allen Etheridge has resigned as cross country coach at Oak Ridge High School after 13 years as head coach and six state titles.
His resignation is effective today (Friday, January 6). Etheridge was an assistant cross country coach for five years before he became head coach.
“I just have the sense that with cross country this was the end of the road,” Etheridge said. “I don’t know that I could bring anything new to the table.”
Besides the six state titles, Etheridge’s teams have won five runner-ups, three third places, one individual state championship, and 15 regional titles. The state championships were in 2005, 2006, and 2007 for the boys, and 2007, 2009, and 2010 for the girls. The individual state champion was John Sharpe in 2009.
Etheridge said he’s been blessed with coaches, boosters, and athletes who want to “do big things” in cross country.
“They deserve to have a coach that is obsessed with doing that,” Etheridge said. “That’s just what we have done for the last 13 years.”
Here are a few other top finishes and honors under Etheridge: The Oak Ridge team was the Southeast regional champion in 2007 and ran in the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, the first Tennessee team to compete. Maclean O’Donnell was the Southeast individual boys champion in 2007. The Oak Ridge team has been the only Class AAA team where the same staff coached both the boys’ and girls’ team to state championships in the same year (2007).
Etheridge said coaching has been all-consuming.
“I’m the kind of guy that’s all or nothing,” he said. “I did it as hard as I could do it for as long as I could do it, then I realized I reached the end of it.”
Etheridge is also an English teacher at Oak Ridge High School, and he’s been head track and field coach since April 2015.
He hasn’t decided whether he’ll continue coaching track and field after this season.
“I was positive about cross country,” Etheridge said. “I just haven’t decided about track and field yet because we have a season coming up.”
His son Jacob, a senior, graduates from Oak Ridge High School this year, and that makes his decision easier, Etheridge said. He said he always wanted to coach both children (Etheridge and his wife Suzanne also have a daughter Adrian who went to ORHS), and he loved coaching them and spending that time with them.
It’s not clear yet who the next cross country coach might be. Ed Wright and Tom Sauer are the assistant cross country coaches now.
ORHS Athletic Director Mike Mullins said the head coaching position will be posted soon, and candidates will be interviewed.
Jim McNamee, who is in the Oak Ridge Sports Hall of Fame, coached cross country before Etheridge, and he won eight state cross country titles. Etheridge ran cross country at Oak Ridge under McNamee, and he was on the 1983 state championship team.
Etheridge is also in the Oak Ridge Sports Hall of Fame (Class of 2008).
He has assistant coaches for the track and field team. They are Ed Wright and Laura Froning for distance coaching, and Luke Hadden for throws (shotput and discus). Etheridge coaches the rest of the events.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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