By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Kyle LeBlanc could have played football, track or baseball in college after excelling in all three sports at Newburyport before his graduation in 2010.
LeBlanc initially chose baseball after being recruited by Bowdoin College coach Mike Connolly. He had a successful freshman year in which he hit .345 with 14 stolen bases.
At the urging of Connolly, LeBlanc joined Bowdoin’s indoor track team last winter in an effort to bolster his speed on the base paths during the spring season. Now in his second season of indoor track, LeBlanc may have found a new No. 1 sport.
LeBlanc is undefeated through three meets in the 60-meter dash, posting a top time of 7.14 seconds. He plans to run indoor track through the end of the season, which will conclude Feb. 16 at the NCAA Division 3 Championships. He’ll actually start the baseball season two days late, as the rest of the team will report for the first practice Feb. 15.
“My baseball coach at Bowdoin saw me play baseball during my junior and senior years of high school,” LeBlanc said. “So he saw me coming out of the winter track season. Once I got to school freshman year, he decided he wanted me to get a little more speed. So I went back to doing track workouts.”
LeBlanc’s season of indoor track paid initial dividends during his sophomore baseball season last spring. He earned a spot as a starting outfielder before suffering an injury in the seventh game. He then missed 10 games before returning at midseason. However, he says the layoff caused him to lose some of the conditioning he gained during the winter. Last baseball season, LeBlanc hit .213, although he did steal 17 bases in 38 games.
“The season didn’t go great for me,” LeBlanc said. “That’s the motivation for this year. I feel a lot faster. Since baseball hasn’t even started, I’m trying to win track meets and help the team win. After running for four years in high school, I know how intense track athletes can be.”
LeBlanc’s training regimen could also be described as intense as he attempts to balance both sports. Since the fall, he has participated in the standard Bowdoin baseball lifting program and attended every track practice.
LeBlanc will run in four more meets before making the transition to baseball. Last winter, he capped his track season by placing 17th in the 60-meter dash at the New England Championships.
“Depending on travel, I’d like to go to the first baseball practice, even if I just watch and support the team,” LeBlanc said. “I’ll run at New England’s the next day, then I’ll get my glove and bat and get going for baseball.”