Cam Leonard, an eighth-grader at the Immaculate Conception School, recently broke the Maudslay State Park course record for a middle school cross-country runner in the 2-mile race.
Leonard started running cross-country last fall as a seventh-grader and broke the IC school record in his first race with a time of 12:47. Later that season, he lowered the standard with a time of 12:41, giving himself a new goal for his eighth-grade season.
Leonard wasted no time in running a fast time this season, clocking an 11:38 in the season-opening meet last week. Fresh off his record-setting performance, he took the time for a question-and-answer session with The Daily News.
What was your athletic background before you started running cross-country?
“When I started in seventh grade, I had already played soccer, baseball and basketball. I played a lot of sports, but I didn’t do much distance running. I was in pretty good shape, just not for long running races.”
Did running long distance come easy to you?
“I liked it a lot. When I first started, I broke the school record in my first race. I guess I was a natural; I didn’t need much training. It was a pretty good first meet.”
Did you find the competition in cross-country different from that of team sports?
“It was kind of similar to competing in other sports, especially soccer. I do a lot of running in soccer, and I know how to pace myself to the point that I’m not sore or tired or winded. Soccer helped a lot with that.”
Did you train differently over the summer after having a year of cross-country experience?
“Over the summer, I ran a lot. I did the Thursday night Maudslay races that (Newburyport coach Don Hennigar) runs. This year, I was more prepared for the season. I had a plan that first race. I knew where to slow down and where to get faster. The training helped a lot. I felt good the entire time. I didn’t feel tired.”