In the final installment of our 2021 'Senior Salute' series we interviewed recent Mason High School graduate Brendan Pitcher.
What were some of the highlights from your high school cross country and track career?
Being able to stand on podium after podium with my teammates. Whether it be team runner-up at state XC 2019 or a disappointing 8th in the 4x800 this past spring. Having the opportunity to grow along with some of my best friends year after year, seeing improvement in myself and in them. Standing up on a podium is a great feeling, but when there are 3 or 6 other boys up there with you it's a game changer. After losing so much time with the boys, anytime I can spend with them either at practice or out playing some basketball would be my highlight. I am so honored to be a part of such a good team with even better people.
Discuss some struggles or adversity that you encountered along the way and had to overcome?
Junior year is the year. You go out in the spring, hit the track blazing and throw down so incredible times to kickstart your recruiting process going into the summer before your senior year. For me that's how it started, I was setting big PR's during indoor and showing that I was ready to be one of the top Ohio mid-distance guys. March 11th I woke up ready to get in the car and make the trek to New York City for New Balance Nationals, checked my phone and realized that the meet had been canceled just hours before we were planning to leave. The next day we had our last team practice, last trip to IHOP with the boys. Junior year was over, the biggest year for a kid who wants to go Division 1. But what I learned over the next year and a half was that you didn't have to go out and prove you're the best or that you should be recognized.
Faith. Family. Friends. That's really why we do so many of the things that we do. We have a belief system that we abide by and dictate how we treat our family and how we act in our relationships with our friends and the people around us. I know that I am viewed in God's eyes the same way that he views all other people past, present, and future. I know that whatever I do I will have someone to lean on and someone who will never leave through the thick and thin. Having the belief and the ability to be content with who I am as God made me allowed me to be free of the stress of Covid, not having a season, being trapped inside, having to wear a mask everywhere. I knew that whatever I ended up going through I always had the best friend right beside me.
Aside from the competition, what was the best thing about being a part of your school's program?
One of the best parts of my time while running at Mason was having a team dedicated to improving one another day after day, all striving to reach the top of that state podium. Coming within 5 points of winning the 2019 XC state meet really showed the relationships that were built between each and every one of us. We were so close to each other and you could tell in practice spring 2020 was going to be a FAST one. But we all know that plans changed when March came around. But having built these close knit friendships with the guys on the team added another twist this "offseason." We were so focused on the days that we would meet up somewhere to run however far just to see people in real life rather than on the phone or computer. Seeing these guys put in effort to keep our relationships alive and something that lasted past high school was something that made being a part of Mason Track and Field and Cross Country so special.
Who are the coaches and teammates from the past four years that you'd like to thank?
I mean I have to thank all my coaches, each and every one of them poured into me and developed me into the man I am today. From Coach Wheeler in middle school, the almost 80 year old who spends every afternoon hanging out with 120 middle school boys teaching them dedication and teaching kids like me to love the sport of running. Then it goes to Coach Rapp, Coach Sagraves, and my dad Coach Pitcher all pouring into my life to help me progress from an alright freshman into the caliber of a runner that I am today. They all taught me to respect the people that I am around and to show them love and grace. Those are things that we may not always deserve to receive but they are what we are called to give.
What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity?
I will be running the next 4 years of my life at Liberty University located in Lynchburg, VA. I was drawn here because of the culture that not just Coach Isaac, but that all of the guys on the team have created. We love to hang out and goof off outside of practice but when practice starts it's business time. You're clocked in and you better work hard till you clock out. These guys here are the people who will invest their day and night into bettering you physically, mentally, and spiritually. My teammates here at LU are some of the most genuine people you can meet. They love you and will help you along your journey just as Christ tells us to do. We have big things ahead of us here at Liberty. Lots of guys with lots of potential and lots of encouragement.
What advice would you give to a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?
This is such a popular question but it's such a good one. Kids need to get involved in the sport, learn to embrace all aspects of the sport, and to respect the sport that they are competing in. Whether that means turning on the TV to watch a pro track meet or going one night to the jv meet or the varsity meet that you didn't make. Observe the faster guys, one of my favorite things to do is to rewatch my races or watch faster guys run. It teaches you so much about how to race well but it also just shows the dedication that you may have to invest into specific parts of your life or of your training. I say that if you are competing in a sport and are wanting a good season get your butt in bed! Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! There's no positive outcome in staying up late to watch tik tok or play xbox. If you want to get better, get in bed. It might be the easiest thing that you can do to increase your performance. Studies show that sleeping a minimum of 8 hours a night can have effects greater than anabolic steroids. Make friends in the sport. If you have a small team or don't have a team go out to social media or Strava or at meets get connected with people. Over the summer meet up in groups for a long run or something. Strive to make connections with people in the sport so that you can develop in all aspects of life.
Watch Brendan Pitcher author an epic 4x400 comeback win during the 2020 indoor campaign.