Photo courtesy of the Ohio State Athletic Department
Like most distance runners, junior Cory Leslie is by no means an imposing physical figure.
But he sure is fast.
Leslie, a member of the Ohio State men’s track and field team, broke his own school record in the indoor mile this weekend at the Penn State National Invitational.
His time of 3:56.85, more than a second faster than his previous record, was good enough to earn him an automatic bid for the NCAA Championships in March.
In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, Leslie had to beat the time of 3:57.9, set forth by the NCAA.
“It’s definitely an honor (to hold the record),” Leslie said. “Especially, you know, considering all the great runners and athletes we’ve had come through here.”
Along with owning the record for the indoor mile, Leslie was also a member of the relay team that set the OSU outdoor 4×800 meter relay record and he owns the 1000-meter indoor record, both set in 2010.
Though he said he’s proud of the accomplishments, the Huron, Ohio, native, said he has bigger goals in mind.
“In the grand scheme of things, being able to win a Big Ten title or be an NCAA All-American is definitely, you know, something that I’d like to achieve,” Leslie said.
In order to earn All-American honors, Leslie must finish in the top eight at the NCAA Championships.
Coach Robert Gary said he believes Leslie is finally starting to live up to his potential.
“He’s got some really high individual goals that I think he’s now starting to realize now after a couple of bumps in the road,” Gary said.
Gary said Leslie’s experience has been the key to his success this season.
“I think Cory always has to kind of experience something, and truth be told, kind of struggle with it,” Gary said. “And the next time, it seems, he really comes back to hit it out of the park.”
Having already secured a trip to the NCAA Championships, Leslie has turned his focus to the upcoming Big Ten Championships.
“Now that I was able to get to the NCAA mark, now I just kind of shift focus to the Big Ten meet,” Leslie said. “And even then, that’s always the top priority going into any season, is being ready to contribute and be ready to go, come the Big Ten Championships.”
Leslie’s success has not come without hard work, hard work that involves lots of training.
“Depending on the day, like today, we worked out so mileage will tend to be a little bit less,” he said. “But on days when we don’t have a workout we’ll run a little bit longer.”
Leslie often trains with former OSU track and field All-American Jeff See.
“He’s here every day and it’s just a great atmosphere to be around, knowing that a lot of the top guys from high school and as well as a few professionals are training together,” Leslie said.
See, who is a professional runner for the shoe company Saucony, often enters the same events as Leslie.
“A lot of indoor and even outdoor meets, up until the Big Ten Championships and NCAA’s, especially in track, you’ll get professional runners that will enter the races too because at the same time they’re going through a season as well,” Leslie said.
In fact, Leslie finished second behind See at the Penn State National Invitational.
“He beat me last year in the same race, so it was kind of interesting,” See said. “On the video (of this past weekend’s race) I went back and watched it, and he stuck like glue to me. He actually hit my heels a couple of times and it keeps you awake.”
See spoke highly of training with Leslie.
“He’s an absolute competitor and he’s one of the guys where you know that when you have a track session, he’s going to be right on your heels,” See said. “He’s one of those guys that holds you accountable and you just try to do the same.”
Gary said he thinks having See and other professionals around has benefited Leslie.
“It helps having a couple of these professional guys out here,” Gary said. “It’s definitely something that he wants to try to be able to do.”
The men’s track and field team continues their season this weekend with the Akron Multi-Event and the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational.