Preview: Cross country looks to improve, open new opportunities for student-athletes

Kaily Sanders

The Saddleback cross-country coach Mark Blethen knows it will be tough to top last outcome, season’s especially with only two returning players on each team.

Blethen looks forward to a season full of improvement and growth for both the men and women’s cross-country teams.

“This is definitely a rebuilding season for us,” said Coach Blethen, “last year was the best season the program has ever had, for both the men’s and women’s team.”

The teams are preparing for their first meet this Saturday, September 19, and they have been working hard at practice Monday through Saturday. For practice, the teams run long distance at various parks and trails all over Mission Viejo. They also do a lot of core and strength workouts, including weight lifting four days a week.

For now, they are in a hard training cycle, in hopes of gaining strength and preparing for the more important meets, like the California state championships in November.

However, towards the end of the season, the team will work harder in the beginning of the week and let their legs rest a little more at the end of the week.

Coach Blethen has coached cross-country for a total of 25 years, including ten years at Saddleback College.

“I really enjoy seeing kids improve,” said Blethen, “it opens up educational opportunities that they may not have had if they weren’t athletes.”

In connection to this, Blethen pointed out that people won’t normally make money from running, but they can make money with the education that running helps them obtain.

Blethen has high hopes for the season, despite the loss of most of the strong, experienced runners. He hopes the team can work hard enough to make it to the California state championships. Blethen knows this will be a challenge, considering the number of first year runners on the team this year.

At the very least, he hopes both teams can make it to the regional championships.