Richland\'s Noland gets boost from Pre-legendary inspiration

Noland has dedicated his senior cross country season to following that credo. He upped his offseason workload from approximately 50 miles a week to more than 70, running twice a day, five days a week.

Noland has his sights set on a top-five finish at state, something that has eluded him in his first two trips -- he placed 17th as a sophomore and 16th last year (eight seconds back of seventh) after winning the Big Nine district title.

It won't be easy. He finished fifth at regionals last year, and all of the top five are back. Eight underclassmen at the 4A state meet finished ahead of Noland; seven return to the 4A ranks.

"This is a great senior class for distance running," said Richland coach Bruce Blizard. "There are any one of 10 guys who could be in the top five this year, so Tyler needed to do a little more than he usually did.

"Tyler is the only kid I've ever coached who I felt like needed to increase his volume (of miles run). He's only 5-5, but he's built like a linebacker. He's handling the added workload real well, and in order to compete against the guys he wants to compete with, he had to do it."

Noland's success invites comparisons to John Hedengren, the last big-time distance runner Richland produced.

But there really is no comparison.

Hedengren was a lanky 6-footer who could grind out fast times like a metronome.

Noland thrives when matched against other top runners, but when he's not pushed, his times look rather ordinary.

"Competition is the best thing in the world for Tyler," Blizard said. "We're always thinking about what to do for Tyler to get him the best competition."

Like Hedengren, though, Blizard predicts Noland will have even more success next year when he enters college. Hedengren starred at BYU; Noland is looking at schools such as Montana State, Washington, Portland, Eastern Washington, Nebraska and Iona.

"Tyler is an extraordinarily good trainer," Blizard said. "He hasn't missed a bit training-wise in his four years here. It's that consistency that'll make him real good at the next level."

Noland started running competitively as a seventh-grader at Carmichael Middle School, but it wasn't until he gave up soccer for track as a freshman that he took running seriously.

His epiphany came in the regional 1,600-meter race. Up against a loaded field, Noland decided to throw caution to the wind and bored his way into the lead on the second lap.

He held it until getting swallowed up by the likes of Mead's Evan Garber and Ferris' Justin Houck, but the rush got Noland hooked.

"Being up front for a lap was awesome," he said. "It made me think it'd be kind of cool to win it."

Blizard added, "Pat Tyson, who was the Mead coach, came up to us afterward and said, 'That's the guttiest thing I've ever seen a ninth-grader do.' And Tyler's response was, 'I thought they needed to run faster.' "

Tyler's won a pair of state medals in track, placing seventh in the 1,600 in 2005 and fifth in the 800 last May.

Now, he'd like to add some hardware at the state cross country meet.

"It's my senior year," he said. "All summer, I've had my eyes on the prize, and that's going to state. I'm not thinking as much about the regular season. It's nice, but it doesn't do as much for me as doing well at state."

InDepth: Tyler Noland

Who: Richland senior cross country runner

Favorite TV show: Scrubs.

Favorite movie: Fight Club or Pulp Fiction.

Favorite meal: Anything that's seafood.

Favorite band: Spoon.

Most embarrassing moment: Last year, I went the wrong way a couple of times at meets -- once at Moses Lake and once at Shadle Park.

Favorite class: Art. I entered a ceramics thing at the fair and won a blue ribbon.

Favorite book: The Power of One by John Avildsen.

* Rene Ferran can be reached at 582-1526 or via e-mail at