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Michael Padilla   |   Men's Cross Country

Athletic Department: Michael Padilla


Michael Padilla, one of the top men’s cross country runners the University of West Florida has ever produced, left the program in 2006 after a four year career in which he placed seven of the 10 fastest 8k times in school history.  Padilla still holds the top three fastest 10k times ever run by an Argonaut.

Padilla is the only Argonaut men’s runner to ever qualify for the Division II NCAA Championships, and he was named an All-American during his senior year. Under head coach Matt Dobson, Padilla was also a four time All-South Region runner, a two-time GSC All-Academic Team selection, and in 2006 he was named to the GSC “Top Ten” as one of the 10 most accomplished student-athletes across all sports in the GSC.  Padilla capped off his individual honors in 2010, as he was selected to the GSC All-Decade Team.

UWF Athletics Hall of Fame Questionnaire
- What was your most memorable moment in UWF athletics?
My most memorable moment at UWF was in November of 2006 when I ran to an All-American finish at the National Championship.  To make it even more special it was in Pensacola, just 5 miles from my house.  I got to race my last collegiate run in my home town, in front of all my family and friends.  Coach Dobson and I had a plan for me that day, and everything just fell into place.  It was definitely a great day for me, my family and the cross country team.   

- Being a former student-athlete, how has it helped you in your life after college?
Being a student-athlete for the beginning of my adult life helped set the foundation for my career as a Marine Corps officer.  I firmly believe that there is a direct correlation to success in the “work force” for former student-athletes.  Why?  We had to learn how to manage our time not only between classes and athletics, but most of us also had jobs, others volunteered in the community with coaching.  This amount of personal responsibility early on in my life definitely helped me excel in my military career.  The hard work and dedication that I had and surrounded myself with at UWF also helped me put 100 percent of my efforts into everything that I have done or worked for.  I owe a great deal of gratitude to my teammates and Coach Dobson for setting me up for success in life after college.

- Are you still involved with your sport?  If so, in what capacity?
I don’t have the personal time to go out and fully commit myself to running like I did while I was in college.  I do however try to run at least twice a week, occasionally with a track workout here and there to make things interesting.  I still run an occasional road race to get back in the competitive mindset.  Running though will always be a part of me; I will never fully give it up.

- What is your current occupation?
I’m a Captain in the Marine Corps.   I have been in for a little over 5 years.  I fly AV-8B Harriers in Cherry Point, NC.  What makes the Harrier special is that it is an attack jet that can not only take off and land like a regular fixed wing aircraft, but it can take off and land vertically by vectoring it’s thrust with the use of nozzles on either side of the fuselage of the aircraft.  My squadron is VMA-231, the “Ace of Spades.”  We are currently working up for a deployment to Afghanistan in the fall of 2012 in support of “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
- Are you married?  Have children?  If so, please list names and children’s ages.
Ashley Padilla – wife, former UWF student.  She graduated with a degree in Hospitality in 2009.  We have been married for over two years.

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