By Brian Ramsey
OBU Sports Information
ARKADELPHIA — After 36 years as a successful cross country and track & field head coach, Ouachita Baptist University alumnus Pat Ponder has come home as the new assistant coach for the Tigers.
The 1988 Ouachita graduate began his new role at the university this summer following his retirement as the head cross country and track & field coach at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, where he coached for 15 years, and most recently, launched the Texans in its transition process to the NCAA Division I ranks in the Western Athletic Conference.
Ponder also has coaching stops at Henderson State (1988-90), Northwood (1990-96), Texas A&M-Commerce (1996-01, 2002-07), and Wayland Baptist (2001-02).
The Linden, Texas, native is a seven-time Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year in either cross country or track & field. At Tarleton alone, he coached three NCAA Division II national champions, led 54 athletes to All-America honors, and helped his student-athletes set a combined 59 new school records. Including his other coaching stops, Ponder has coached four national champions and more than 70 individuals to earn All-America honors.
“We are absolutely blessed to have a coach as qualified as Pat Ponder join our staff,” said Ouachita Cross Country/Track & Field Head Coach Steve Guymon. “I have watched him coach for many years, competed against his teams, and admired the way he has guided young people to success in competition and in life. He also brings back the tradition that was started years ago with Coach (Bob) Gravett.”
Ponder earned All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference honors as a distance runner at Ouachita in the 1980s. He still holds the school record in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 31:21.18 at the Henderson State Relays in 1987.
Ponder graduated from Ouachita in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He earned a master’s degree in education from Henderson State in 1989. He and his wife, Michele, have two daughters named Kenna and Kylee.
“I’m excited to return home to a place that gave me many opportunities,” said Ponder. “My Ouachita education and experience are the foundations for what I have been able to accomplish in my profession.”