FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona University's men's cross country and track & field team has had an incredible year thus far. Every team needs an athlete that will put it all on the line and do the little things, while not getting a ton of publicity or recognition. For NAU men's cross country and track & field that person is fifth-year senior Josh Hardin.
Prior to coming to NAU, Hardin grew up in Sterling, Va., graduating from Potomac Falls High School where he was a standout in cross country, track & field and lacrosse. Hardin then took his talents to Williamsburg, Va., where he competed at College of William and Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Virginia-native garnered awards such as CAA Rookie of the Year in addition to some All-CAA nods. Hardin paid his own way to travel to Philadelphia, Pa., to compete at the Penn Relays on the east coast for the last time in his collegiate career.
What led to your decision to come to NAU for your final year of eligibility?
"I graduated from William and Mary, decided to head out west and ended up here. Basically, I wanted to get into an education program and also run for an elite university. I talked to Coach Heins and he allowed me to join this young but talented team. I wanted to get back to the podium and have a chance for a national championship."
Cross country season was one of the best in school history. How was the experience of being on such a great team?
"Cross country season was a blessing and everything I could hope for. I started off rough but Coach Heins had faith in me and allowed me to keep my training where it should be and I ended up being our fourth guy at nationals. I got a chance to bond with a new set of guys which I was a little worried about because I was changing coasts and meeting a whole new set of teammates. It was awesome and I couldn't ask for a better way to end my career."
What was it like coming into a program that has such a strong pedigree for winning?
"Coming into a program where the tradition is just winning; it really rubs off on me. I came into indoors a little banged up but the main goal was to help out at conference. I was able to help out the team running the 3K and stringing out the race to help my teammates go 1-2-3. Holding up that trophy at the end was just a great feeling. We are hosting the outdoor championships and it's pretty special to have the opportunity to win at our home track. The main goal is to take care of business and make sure we keep the championship trophy here in Flagstaff. I just have to do my part to help the team."
What was it like competing at the Penn Relays in your final season?
"Being brought up on the east coast, Penn Relays has just been part of my life. It almost didn't feel right not ending my career there. I got to see my family and friends and it was like a homecoming of sorts. It's just a special atmosphere that I really enjoy and grown up on.
Hardin finished third in the men's 5000-meter run with a time of 14:03.06.