Men’s cross country team finishes second in first race of season

Joshua+Akin+led+the+way+for+the+Hilltoppers+at+the+team%E2%80%99s+first+race+of+the+season+with+a+time+of+16%3A23.89.+Akin+says+he%E2%80%99s+looking+forward+to+working+with+his+teammates+to+improve.
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Men’s cross country team finishes second in first race of season

Joshua Akin led the way for the Hilltoppers at the team’s first race of the season with a time of 16:23.89. Akin says he’s looking forward to working with his teammates to improve.

Joshua Akin led the way for the Hilltoppers at the team’s first race of the season with a time of 16:23.89. Akin says he’s looking forward to working with his teammates to improve.

Courtesy of SEU Athletics Communications

Joshua Akin led the way for the Hilltoppers at the team’s first race of the season with a time of 16:23.89. Akin says he’s looking forward to working with his teammates to improve.

Courtesy of SEU Athletics Communications

Courtesy of SEU Athletics Communications

Joshua Akin led the way for the Hilltoppers at the team’s first race of the season with a time of 16:23.89. Akin says he’s looking forward to working with his teammates to improve.

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The St. Edward’s University men’s cross-country team finished second overall in their season opener at the Texas Invitational on Sept. 13.

Junior Joshua Akin and sophomore Everardo Esparza placed 13th and 14th in the 5k invitational race of about 60 to 70 runners. Sophomore Michael Longoria and senior Stone Hamilin also finished in the top 20 at the invitational.

“I think [their finishes] was certainly an expectation. There were certainly some highlights from the race,” head coach Ryan Ponsonby said. “There were also indications of where we fell short as a team. So anytime we have a season opener you’re going to find those good and bad and draw the positives and apply them to the weeks moving forward.” 

Akin, who finished the race with a 16:23.89 time, said he spent most of last year recovering from injury and illness but believes he had good winter and summer training that improved his racing.

“I talk about this all the time, but there is no instant gratification,” Ponsonby said. “It takes time. it’s a process and you have to put the work in. Josh has definitely seen the results of the hard work he’s put in over the past nine months.”

Akin knows that trusting the process is advice that he can fall back on. With his confidence and drive to work hard, he tries to put in 110 percent for himself and his team.

“This is a team sport,” Akin said. “We are running by ourselves, but when you look to your left and right and you see the guys on your team it motivates you to keep pushing.”

Esparza finished the race with a time of 16:31.51. Although he had a great start to the season, he believes that he can do better in the upcoming meets.

“I think Ev can really compete at a high level this season,” Ponsonby said. “It was a good opener for him. I certainly think there is more in the tank for him and I’m sure he would agree.”

The cross-country team is a family that continues to support each other by spreading positivity and minimizing negativity.

“I feel like cross-country is not much of an individual sport but more of a team aspect,” said Esparza. “The better teammate I can be, the better shot the team has at being better.”

The team has been training for their seasonal goal, which is to be top five at the Lone Star Conference Championship on Oct. 26.

“We’ve got several racing opportunities ahead of us,” Ponsonby said. “But truly, Oct. 26 is a date on our calendar that we’ve got circled and highlighted. I think today we’ve put in the work that we’ve needed to, now it’s just a matter of continuing to put in the work and sharpen up our race tactics.”