Meet the Coaches: Pete Bieghler of Warsaw

2018 Lady Tigers, Bieghler is not pictured.

Everyone knows the top athletes on many teams across the state of Indiana, but we seem to forget about those guys that helped get them to that level, the coaches. Whether they are a volunteer assistant or the head coach, every single one has an impact on the team. That is why we are starting a series entitled, "Meet the Coaches". Each week we will try to feature one coach from somewhere in Indiana, so we and you can get to know them a little better.

This week we feature the 1987 state cross country champion, Pete Bieghler. Pete currently holds the 13th fastest time at state meet and the 5th fastest time to win the race. Bieghler is an assistant coach for Warsaw Girls Cross Country Team and the Head Track Coach. 

MileSplit IN: When did you start running?

Coach Bieghler:  I started running in the fall of 1982 as a 7th grader at Lincoln Junior High in Plymouth, Indiana. I began running XC to get in shape for basketball. In my first race I placed 7th on my team. By the end of the season in 1982, I placed 2nd at Jr. Olympics Nationals in Cincinnati. I continued running at Plymouth High School and won state cross-country in 1987 (14:58). I went on to run track and XC at Indiana University. My college career was plagued by injuries which started my senior track season.

Bieghler in the 1987 xc champs
MileSplit IN: What is it like to be a former state champion and now coaching in the same conference? 

Coach Bieghler:  I think it helps with credibility and getting girls to buy-in to the program. Being in the same conference is kind of fun as so many of the courses are the same ones I raced on 30+ years ago.

MileSplit IN: When did you start coaching?
Coach Bieghler: I started as a volunteer assistant coach for Warsaw in 2016. My good friend from high school had a daughter (Mia Beckham - All-State in XC and Track) on the Warsaw team who I had been watching and giving informal advice. I started showing up at practices and would help time workouts and eventually became a volunteer assistant. Beginning with the 2017 track season my role became a little more formalized. I have had the privilege to work with some great coaches at Warsaw. We have had quite a bit of turnover in the head coaching positions in both track and XC. But have been fortunate to always have top quality individuals. This year in XC we have a new coach and 2 new assistants. The only repeat coaches are the volunteers. But the program hasn't skipped a beat - takes a little time to adjust for the athletes and we are adjusting well.

MileSplit IN:  What is your "day job"?

Coach Bieghler: I am a CPA/Consultant with the Auditwatch group of ThomsonReuters. I provide continuing education CPA's via live training and webinars. In addition, I consult with CPA firms on ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their audit practice. My job requires substantial travel in the summer and fall so I am limited in the amount of time I can commit to cross Country. In the spring I have more time available so am more heavily involved with track.

Bieghler at the '17 Flashes Showcase

MileSplit IN: If you had to pick one season out of your whole coaching career as your favorite, which would it be and why?

Coach Bieghler:  2017 Track season. We had such a wonderful group of girls who worked extremely hard and ran amazing times. We had 4 girls run 5:20 or better for the 1600 at Flashes Showcase.  Mia Beckham got on the podium in the 1600 and our 4x800 relay team won the slow heat at state with some gutsy races.

MileSplit IN: Favorite hobbies?
Bieghler: We live on lake Tippecanoe so most of my hobbies relate to the lake (skiing, wake surfing, jet skiing, etc.). I have given up trying to better my son (Alec) at these activities and enjoy being the boat driver now.

MileSplit IN: Do you have a favorite course in Indiana? Anywhere?

Bieghler: I always enjoyed Oxbow Park in Goshen. At Plymouth, we would race there often including for Sectional and Regional. The course has been modified in recent years but still enjoy the atmosphere. Oxbow is the course for our conference meet (NLC). New Prairie's cross-country course was also one of my favorites. The ravine followed by "agony hill" was always challenging.

MileSplit IN: How would you describe your coaching style?
Bieghler: I think it is still evolving. Every team/season has been different in so many ways. I wonder what the girls would say to this question. I am not much of a yeller and am pretty laid back. I have had privilege to observe great coaches in my running career at the MS, HS and College level and take something from each of my coaches. Also have learned a lot from the various coaches here at Warsaw. I like to emulate many of the great things I see in so many of the coaches - we have some who are super athlete friendly and inspirational, others more focused on the technical training so it is great to blend that into the coach I want to be. Due to my history of injuries, I am very cautious in our training volume and intensity. We have had very few serious injuries that require substantial time off. After every race, I provide "coach Pete notes" which analyzes each girls race and splits. My college coach Sam Bell provided similar notes and I always enjoyed them as an athlete. I try to find a positive to be taken from each race and something we can use in future training and races.

MileSplit IN: How do you work with the different ability levels of your athletes?
Bieghler: This is a huge challenge as we don't do cuts at Warsaw. We have around 40 girls who run anywhere from 18's to well over 30 mins. Generally, we break the girls into groups based on current fitness and at times they would do very different workouts. For example, we may have the top group run 3-4 x 2K at Threshold and our slowest group run a broken threshold of 3-4 sets of 4 x 400 at slightly faster than threshold with very short recovery (30 secs).  The purpose of the workout is essentially the same (approx. 8 mins of threshold) but achieved in a different manner. The 400's are easier mentally and physically for the less fit group and they can run them slightly faster than threshold. I try to really take into account the individual athletes. We have a lot of girls in who start track season after competing in a winter sport (swimming, gymnastics or basketball), they come into the spring so far behind in certain areas. The swimmers come in so fit cardio-wise but we need to be gentle on the body getting used to the pounding again.

MileSplit IN: Favorite workout?
Bieghler: As a coach, I really enjoy mix workouts where the pace changes throughout the workout. For example, we modified the famous NAU "Lumberjack" workout to include 3x400 hard, 2400 Threshold, 3x400 hard, 2400 Threshold, 3x400 hard. I like to do this one 2x per XC season.

As an athlete, my favorite was always 200's. Nothing like running fast 200's with jog across infield.