By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 30, 2015) — Pat Ponder is forgiven for missing the initial call seeking an interview for this story. He was in a room face to face with three high school seniors he is recruiting.
What else would you expect from the Lone Star Conference Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year?
Ponder, in his eighth year as head coach of men’s and women’s cross country and track and field at Tarleton State, earned the league’s top coaching honor for 2015 in a vote of league head coaches. It’s the fifth time he’s received the award.
“It’s so special because it comes from my colleagues, and that’s very humbling,” said Ponder Friday, not long after learning he received the honor while out on the recruiting trail. “When your fellow coaches, those people who can relate to everything you go through and everything it takes to be successful in our sport, when they’re the ones honoring you, it’s special. It means a lot.”
Ponder said he received a congratulations text from senior Aly Coughlin, the top women’s medalist at the LSC Championships Monday in Stephenville. She will lead the TexAnns when they join the Texans in the South Central Regional Championships in Canyon on Saturday, November 7.
“She told me congratulations and I told her thank you, because as I always tell the kids, I’m only as successful as they are,” Ponder said. “The kids have to be successful for the coach to even be considered for these honors.”
Ponder said the achievements at the LSC meet made it fun to hit the recruiting trail this week. The women were first and the men second in the team standings at Tejas Golf Course. Coughlin and third medalist Katelin Huckabee each made the women’s all-conference team while five Texans – Tye Doty in third, Chase Rathke sixth, Thorne Pettigrew ninth, Dylan Willett 11th, Brandon Lacy 13th and Luke Scribner 14th made the men’s team.
“Tarleton cross country is a pretty easy sell right now,” said Ponder. “I talked with three young ladies today and I believe they are all going to come on officials visits.”
Winning with one group while recruiting the next. It’s all part of the cycle for Ponder.
It’s what his colleagues say he’s the best at – five times over.