Esqueda Named Bill Elliott Male Athlete of the Year

Esqueda Named Bill Elliott Male Athlete of the Year

Hartnell College distance ace Ricky Esqueda could never have imagined that one simple Saturday run could have turned into being named the 2018 Bill Elliott Male Athlete of the Year. Last January, Head Coach Chris Zepeda ran into Esqueda at a local race and planted the seed to return to competitive running but in a Hartnell College. Uniform. Esqueda, who prepped at San Benito High School, had attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois for just under three years before returning home to Hollister. With the encouragement of former Panther and multi-state champion Diego Leon, Esqueda enrolled as a full-time student at Hartnell College in Fall 2018. Since his first day on campus, Esqueda has exemplified the mission of the college and the athletic department. He's become a leader for his team and used all the academic resources to prep himself for becoming a leader in the community.

This past fall, Ricky became the Coast Conference cross country champion winning his title at Toro Park. He returned one week later to accomplish a more challening feat by crossing the line of the Northern California Championship first. His time of 20:15 over the four mile course at Toro Park established a new Hartnell College program record. His performance spearheaded a Panther attack that repeated as Northern California championship for the third time in school history. At the CCCAA State Championship, Esqueda ran amongst the top four overall for nearly the entire race before settling for 12th overall in his first championship. The effort earned him All-American honors and lead the team to its third consecutive top 5 team finish.

The spring has been much of the same success for Esqueda. He surpassed the State Auto qualifying mark in the 10,000 meters on March 3. His 15:19 5000m mark at the SF State Distance Carnival ranks him as one of the best in school history. At the Coast Conference Championship, Esqueda placed in four events and was the 5000m individual champion. With his efforts, the team upended conference foe DeAnza College for the team title. On May 4, Ricky became the fourth Panther in recent years to win the 10,000 meter title crossing the line in 32:01.13, a lifetime best.