Cross country coach looks forward to future of the program after a decade of commitment

Channing Flatt—

Sports Reporter

Head cross country coach Pat Ponder is looking towards the future as he enters his tenth season at Tarleton State University.

Ponder is coming off of a historic 2015 season in which his team won Tarleton’s first ever Women’s Cross Country Lone Star Conference Championship, including the individual title from national qualifying senior runner, Aly Coughlin.

Runner Katelin Huckabee said, “We’ve made goals, we’re working constantly and we want to hold our title as conference championship.”

 Peyton Heinig competes on the men's cross country team. Photo Courtesy of Tarleton Athletics

Peyton Heinig competes on the men’s cross country team. Photo Courtesy of Tarleton Athletics

 

Ponder said, “Our goals for this season are to repeat as LSC national champions and send even more runners to the national championship.” Although the team is now without Coughlin, Ponder talked about leadership within his squads.

 

“We’ve got good leadership on both sides with Katelin and Peyton Heinig. I think they’re leading the team well…and by the time the conference championship rolls around, I think we’ll be ready,” Ponder said.

 

Ponder’s athletes have had much success on the cross country course, but even more success in the classroom.

 

The Lone Star Conference recognized Tarleton runners for their academic achievements as well. In the conferences, academic runner of the year was awarded to Tye Doty for the men’s team, and Coughlin took home the award for the women’s.

 

“We emphasize academics a lot because it’s what embodies being a student athlete,” Ponder said.

So far this season, both cross country teams came in first place in their first meet of the season, the Bob Gravett Invitational. Last week the team competed in the Texas A&M Invitational, in which over 10 Division 1 schools were present.

“When you see those big schools in the race it just wants to make you want to go and represent Tarleton even more,” runner Michael Simcho said.

Ponder’s team has been riding a lot of momentum from the past years. In 2013, the women’s team went to the national championship for the first time in Tarleton history. Since then, the women’s cross country team has competed in the national championship either as a team or as an individual runner every year.

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