When Kaleb McLeod starts a run, his mind is clear and focused on what he wants to accomplish on that specific day.
Sometimes, when he has a goal for the run, he is focused on his pace and tempo, and on other days he will run his regular course and start at opposite ends.
He is quick to admit that on some days he really doesn’t feel like getting in the work that has brought him to being a college-level runner, but, even on those days, he very rarely decides not to do it.
The miles that McLeod puts in six days a week isn’t for the recreational runner. He estimates he puts in 45-60 miles a week. But running is something that McLeod has loved since he won his very first race in the fifth grade.
That love carried McLeod, a senior at Trinity Christian-Dublin, to his fourth straight GISA individual cross country title this fall. And, for the third straight year, McLeod is The Telegraph All-Middle Georgia boys cross country runner of the year.
“It’s really hard to believe that my cross country career at Trinity Christian is over, but I still have track season coming up,” said McLeod, who led his team to a second-place finish in this year’s GISA Class AAA meet and back-to-back Class AA titles in 2012 and 2013. “It was a little disappointing that we didn’t win state but everyone on the team ran solid races, so it wasn’t that much of a letdown.
“Southland was the defending state champion in AAA, and we only lost by three points. The team still had a great year.”
The example that McLeod set for his team could be seen every day at practice, according to Trinity Christian head coach Evan Winegarner.
“The entire cross country team trains together, including the middle school, and Kaleb is constantly encouraging everyone on the team,” Winegarner said. “He sets the tone for the entire team. None of the varsity runners wants to be left in the dirt by him, and even though he finishes his run before everyone else, he always stayed until the very last runner was through. The younger runners see the success that Kaleb has had, and they know if they put in the work, they can be great runners, too.”
Winegarner remembers when McLeod started to get serious about cross country.
“He was still playing football in the eighth grade, but he came out for the final two weeks of the season and dropped over four minutes off of his time in that short period,” Winegarner said. “After that, I think he realized that he had a real talent for running.”
McLeod is undecided as to where he will attend college, but he is getting interest from Mercer, Alabama and Georgia and has a recruiting trip to Belmont in his plans sometime soon.
Until then, he will work to get ready for track and field season.
“I am doing a lot of speed work and lifting weights and just trying to get stronger,” McLeod said. “Running around in circles isn’t quite as fun as running cross country, but I just love to compete. Hopefully I will continue to improve when I get to college.”