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Baylor Student-Athlete Spotlight: Erin Bedell
September 10, 2008

Austin Staton
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

Athletes are competitive by nature. Within every student-athlete is the innate drive to succeed and dedicate themselves to the best of their ability in both sport and inside the classroom.


For Erin Bedell, the tune is similar, but with a twist. For the past two seasons Bedell has been stricken with both injury and illness that has limited her participation on both the Baylor cross county and track and field teams.


On the heels of a very successful freshmen campaign in which Bedell finished 40th overall at the NCAA Championships, the best showing nationally by a true freshman, and leading the cross country team to a 15th-place finish, expectations were extremely high for her sophomore year.


Unfortunately, illness and injury forced Bedell to redshirt during the 2006 cross country season.


“Looking back at it, I wish I would have just stopped running and taken a break,” the Plano, Texas, product said. “Instead I kept running. I just didn’t compete or do hard workouts but I was running a lot of mileage. I felt that it probably messed me up for the long run, but I was really stubborn and did not want to stop running.”


After a year of setbacks, Bedell looked to rebound in 2007 but a nagging injury limited her to only four events.


“I just struggled until the fall of 2007,” Bedell said. “I was starting to get (healthy) and I thought that I was going to make a difference on the team and then I had some flair-up in my back. (The doctors) thought it was a stress reaction in my hip. I think ultimately it was a nerve problem. That really set me back mentally and physically.”


Frequent injury seems unwarranted for an athlete who is physically active and otherwise healthy. In hopes of regaining that competitive edge, Bedell took time to reevaluate and refocus over this past summer in order to return to her freshmen form.


“I love running and I have the most fun competing. I am extremely competitive whether it is a card game or running a race,” Bedell joked. “It was really hard not competing and not travelling, especially after my freshmen year when I went on two overseas trips. I was at a really big high and then all of the sudden I was all the way at rock bottom where I had not been in a long time.”

Taking the on the responsibility as a team leader
After spending the summer recovering and training, Bedell began regaining her first-year form. Baylor cross country coach Todd Harbour honored her strong work ethic and dedication by naming her as a team captain for the 2008 season.

“The intangibles are just amazing for Erin. She is such a competitor and she has a fire and you need that,” Harbour said. “We have a lot of great leaders, but she is one of those fiery leaders. She is just a natural when it comes to (leadership).”


Taking on such a leadership position is nothing new for the Baylor junior. Following her freshmen season she was named as the captain for the United States Junior Cross Country Team that would compete in Fukuoka, Japan.


“I think that going to worlds makes you a little bit more experienced on a competitive playing field,” Bedell said after finishing 35th in Japan. “I think just going to worlds really helps me to help the girls understand certain things. It just helps me to encourage other girls that are on the Baylor squad.”


In addition to taking on a leadership roll for the Lady Bears this season, Bedell still continues to excel in the classroom. After her freshmen year she was named to the fall and spring Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. As an athlete looks to improve on every accomplishment, Bedell did just that she earned Academic All-Big 12 first team honors.


“That was a big part of coming to Baylor because you are going to be in the Big 12 and you are going to be able to compete as well as go to a really good school,” Bedell explained. “I think it is a balancing act. I know that all athletes understand it. You just have to prioritize things. You might not get the complete college experience but I would not trade anything for my athletics and academics.”


Expectations for the 2008 season 

In her first race back following a long road to recovery, the Baylor women's cross country team won the team title two weekends ago at the Baylor Twilight Meet. Finishing second behind teammate Nicole Jones, Bedell clocked a time of 14:09.03, helping to lead the Lady Bears to the meet victory.


“I thought she just had a good solid opener,” said Harbour, whose team will compete in the Texas A&M Invitational this weekend. “We just wanted to keep everything pretty low-key and not really overextend ourselves too much since it is still early in the season. We have been training pretty hard, so I thought she did a great job.”


Bedell has lofty expectations for the 2008 season which include a top 10 team finish at the NCAA national meet plus individual All-American honors.


“During my freshmen year I was five places off, and ever since then, I have wanted to be an individual All-American,” said the determined Bedell. “If I am an All-American in cross country, that means that our team is going to do that much better.”

With the leadership of such a strong-willed student-athlete, the sky is the limit for the Lady Bears Cross Country team.






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