TexAnn Cross Country team wins LSC Championship


Francisco Castro, Contributor

On Oct. 21, the Texan and TexAnn Cross Country teams competed in the 2017 Lone Star Conference Championships. With much swift and dedication, the TexAnns raced their way to victory, and received the LSC Cross Country Championship for the second consecutive year.

“It was crazy,” said Andelynn Carlton, Cross Country team member for the TexAnns. “It was a great race from all the girls. They all worked hard and there were some great results because they all worked hard. At first we thought we didn’t win, and then when Coach [Ponder] told us, I couldn’t believe it. It really got me, because I was like, ‘Wait, what?’, and we wound up winning. It was really emotional, but it was awesome.”

Head Cross Country Coach Pat Ponder was very proud of his team for winning the championship.

“Having committed athletes like Andelynn and others pulling together and winning that championship, without all of them working together, working towards that common goal, that would have never happened,” Ponder said.

“It shows that no matter what, with good coaching, and as long as you work together, you can do it.” Carlton said.

While the TexAnns celebrated their victory in the championships, Ponder was honored with the LSC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year Award.

“I think it was really great, like he deserved it,” commented Carlton. “He’s here every morning with [the team], and he’s put in as much work as we have. He’s made us go from nothing into a great team.”

Joining the Tarleton family in 2007, Ponder stopped at nothing to ensure his student athletes were successful, on and off the track.

“All these teams that have been successful have a leader, and the leader is someone that all the girls look up to, because they’re leading by example, in the practice sessions, on and off the course, and it’s always nice to see that,” said Pat Ponder. “I coach just for the passion of being around young men and women and seeing them grow. To see them take it to the next level is awesome. You look back at what we’ve done here in just a short period of time, and it’s all attributed to the athletes.

“It takes a lot of skill and discipline, and these athletes have proven that their willing to sacrifice, and they’re all amazing student athletes. Some people just think ‘Oh, they’re just here for athletics’ but no, their not, they’re here for both the academics and the athletics. Your degree is what your here for, first and foremost. And all of these young men and women are graduating with degrees and moving onto the next stage in life.”

When it comes to his student athletes, Ponder’s goal goes far beyond just Cross Country and Academia.

“We all have that person in our life that gives us that sense of direction, and I think that’s been my calling all along. To work with young men and women to help them succeed in every aspect of their life. One of the greatest attributes of that is having them come back, and
tell me about their lives, showing them their kids, or what their accomplishments are. It’s rewarding, and that’s why I love what I do,” Ponder said with a burning passion. “All these honors for coach of the year and all that, its all well and good, but that’s because of what the athletes have done. I don’t accomplish those things without the athletes. If you have a passion for the sport, or for whatever you do in life, those thing aren’t the true meaning for doing what you do. I certainly have a passion for teaching and being around these young men and women, and helping them become the best that they can be. I tell people all the time, this is not a job; this is a passion. I love coming to work every day, I love being here, being around these folks, and it’s awesome.”

With a strong commitment to what he does, Ponder hopes to continue his work with the Cross Country team, helping them succeed on the track, in school and in life.

With a second championship on their belt, the team sets a new goal to win it a third time.

“I would love to get that [championship] a third time. I think we can do it too, as long as we stay on track over the summer, work together and keep everyone accountable, I think we really can. At least that’s the plan.”