With a change of scenery and rekindled passion, Ledesma has his sights set on big goals this season, which include winning D2 Nationals and representing
Mexico at the world championships.

Since winning the 2016 Oregon 4A championship in the 1,500m his senior year for Tillamook high school, Aryton Ledesma’s passion for running has taken him to great heights while giving him opportunities to learn from adversity.

“Failure is part of the process. As runners I feel like we tend to be really hard on ourselves when things don’t go the way we want, but it’s important to remember
that one bad race/season or even a year doesn’t define who you are as an athlete,” says Ledesma.

Upon graduating from Tillamook in 2016, Ledesma decided to begin his collegiate career at Gillette College, a small community college in Wyoming. After spending his freshman year developing his fitness, the following season saw new levels of success for him and the program.

With the addition of first-year coach Sean Smith, the Pronghorns’ went on a historic run in cross country that featured winning their region’s championship led by a personal best of 25:29 in the 8k from Ledesma. Despite having an undersized team, they would use that momentum the following race at the NJCAA Championships to finish a program-best at 4th place.

Once track began in the winter, Ledesma made a name for himself during the indoor season by securing a national title in the 3000m as well as finishing second in the mile. He was able to continue finding success once the outdoor circuit began, this time capturing a title in the 3000m steeplechase paired with being a
runner-up in the 5k.

This breakout season led to him being named NJCAA Midwest Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year and receiving an offer to run for Oklahoma State University that he graciously accepted.

During his time in Oklahoma, Ledesma was able to achieve new personal bests from the 3000m steeplechase (8:55) and in the 8k (25:05). He was also awarded All-Big 12 twice during his 2019 season for the steeplechase and the 5k. Though he was able to find success at his new school, a plantar fasciitis diagnosis and frustrating performances led to Ledesma feeling he had way more to offer to this sport than he was being given the opportunity to give. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic he was sidelined in the Fall 2020 season and only able to compete sparingly during this past
Spring as an unattached athlete. After finishing his undergraduate degree in computer science at OSU, Ledesma had a choice to make on what his future
with running would look like.

“It has definitely been a roller coaster of emotions. The sport basically took over my life since I was a senior in high school and because of it, I’ve had the opportunity to live in different places, travel all over the country and meet so many incredible people along the way,” he mentioned.

Upon considering his options and being granted an extra year of eligibility from the cancelled 2020 season, Ledesma decided to finish out his collegiate career at Azusa Pacific University. This decision not only gave him a place to gain his master’s degree in applied statistics and analytics, it also reunited him with his former coach from
Gilette College, Sean Smith.

When asked how it felt to be able to have Smith as his coach again Ledesma said, “Oh man, it’s awesome! Sean is by far the most dedicated coach I’ve seen and every athlete he coaches ends up dropping minutes. I’m just grateful to be back working under his guidance and continue to be a student of the sport.” Since joining APU, Ledesma has wasted no time becoming an impactful part of the program while
competing as an unattached member for cross country. On Sept. 10th, he set the course record at the Biola invitational with a 24:18 8k, winning the race by nearly
30 seconds.

As he looks ahead to track, he not only hopes to bring success to APU with titles in the steeplechase and 5k, but also to his native-country Mexico. Being from Morelia, Mexico and becoming a two-time bronze medalist at the Mexico Junior Nationals outside of his collegiate career has given him a calling to leave his mark on the Mexican running community.

With this in mind, he has set his sights on representing Mexico at World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon racing the 3000m steeplechase and finding ways
to give back to the next generation of Mexican runners.

“I want to change the lives of other young athletes just like mine. Running has opened so many doors for me, and I want others to experience the same,” says
Ledesma. “Hopefully in a few years I can help kids, so that they can get scholarships to go to college in the United States,” he says.

It has been a long journey for Ayrton Ledesma, filled with trials and tribulations that have shaped him into the seasoned athlete he is today. No matter what school he makes an impact on, like APU, or how big the race is, he still approaches the sport with the same passion he felt watching his brother do road races ten years ago.