Mark Bedenbaugh has been in this business a long time.
Twenty-five years to be exact.
So, when his girl’s Cross Country team at Pelion High School comes to a crossroads about a decision or an obstacle during their season, they just look to their coach for advice.
Coach Bedenbaugh has a very successful girls Cross Country program at Pelion, just a short drive down Highway 302 out of Columbia. And the proven track record is something that he uses as motivation for his team each year. “I try to motivate them by reminding them that they are part of a program that has been fairly successful over the years, winning 22 conference championships,” says Bedenbaugh.
But how does someone prepare for a meet that could cover 1 mile? 3 miles? 5 miles?
“Preparation for a student-athlete begins in the summer with lots of base mileage, preferably with one longer run per week and one tempo per week. Once the foundation is laid, I can begin giving the athletes more intense training such as speed work, 800 and mile repeats, etc. We also use hill repeats in the early part of the search to fire fast-twitch muscle tissue,” adds the two-time state champion coach.
Coming off of their second state championship team the Panthers return nine runners out of the 21 girls on the team. They are looking to keep the success going during their regular season, being primed and ready to go when the post-season starts. The playoffs start in a month at the end of October. Those lead into the finals, which conclude the high school Cross Country season on November 6th.
With the past success and the playoffs looming, Bedenbaugh knows that not too many people are in the know about Cross Country. About the unknown of this running sport, Coach Bedenbaugh exclaims, “Cross Country runners are part of a fairly elite breed of athlete. Not everybody can do it.” Then, along with not knowing much about the sport, the majority of people do not know how their meets work, either. Coach Bedenbaugh simply puts it, “Cross Country is scored based on whatever place the athlete comes across the finish line. First place is one point, second place is two, etc. It is similar to golf in which your team wants the lowest number of points. The top seven runners run for Varsity and the top five score for the team.”
Coach Bedenbaugh wants to offer some advice to younger student-athletes that might want to pursue Cross Country, but don’t like all the running. “The worst thing that can happen to you if you run Cross Country is that you will get in shape!”
Getting into shape and a good chance to be a state champion is not a bad way to spend your fall days in high school.
Just ask Coach Bedenbaugh.