Jacob McLeod never has had to look too far to see how a cross country runner needs to train to be successful.
After all, his brother Kaleb dominated the Middle Georgia high school cross country scene for years before heading off to Belmont to continue his running career.
After winning the GISA state meet, Jacob McLeod placed 15th this year in the Footlocker National meet in San Diego, California, which garnered him All-America honors. Despite his brother’s success, the younger McLeod, a Trinity Christian junior and The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, never felt the pressure of trying to compete with his brother.
“Honestly, I was very happy that he was having so much success, and I really just wanted to work on myself as a runner,” said McLeod, who in the peak of training will run up to 75 miles in a week. “Kaleb has pretty much showed me what it takes to be a good runner, and he is always encouraging. He is a great runner, and I just want to keep working hard to see how good I can get.”
Evan Winegarner has coached both of the McLeods in high school, and he saw right away that Jacob could be very good.
“Even when he started running cross country in the sixth grade, he was very competitive and always gave his best,” Winegarner said. “By the time he was in the eighth grade, he was scoring for the varsity team, and he finished third in the state that year. He knows that he has to put the work in to be successful, and he is always willing to do that.
“He was one of the smallest runners at the national meet at 5-8 and about 110 pounds, but he makes it work for him. I believe the sky is the limit for him as a runner.”
The GISA state meet was a team battle this year. McLeod won, while teammates Quillian Holland and Landon Logue finished second and third, but it was not enough to win the team state as Deerfield-Windsor captured the team crown.
“We gave it our best effort, but we fell a little bit short, and that was frustrating for us,” McLeod said. “We started running together in the summer with the goal of winning state, but we will be back next year and hope for a better result.”
McLeod has been taking a break and will be back to training next week, but that did not stop him for getting out with his brother, who is home on break from college, for a run Monday.
“It’s not like we were doing much. I think it was like a 40-minute run that probably covered five miles or so,” McLeod said. “Running is just something that both of us enjoy doing, and it was nice to be out with him.”
Boys Cross Country Team
Carl Ellis Corley, Bleckley County, Sr.
Returning runner of the year; Class 2A state champ (17:19.48); top mark of 16:15; won eight races; among area's top runners of the past several years.
Quillian Holland, Trinity Christian, Jr.
Returning first-teamer; GISA Class 3A runner-up (16:31.76); four sub-17 times; 16:16.68 is 78th in state.
Paul Kellam, West Laurens. Fr.
Had third-best time among all freshmen at state meet (17:18.32); 24th in Class 4A; best of 16:50 for second in Region 2-4A meet (16:50.79).
Hunter Kimball, GMC, Sr.
Class 1A public champ (17:26.99); worst time is 17:35, best is 16:04; set school in state meet; 23rd in state Meet of Champions (16:13.72).
Jacob McLeod, Trinity Christian, Jr.
Returning first-teamer; won GISA Class 3A meet in 15:45.12; finished 15th (15:28.6) in National Foot Locker championship in December.
Tanner Reid, Perry, Jr.
Returning first-teamer; Region 2-4A champ (16:46.59); 26th in Class 4A meet (17:23.02), was 20th last year (18:02.72); seven top-5 finishes; low mark of 17:49.
Note: Team is compiled from nominations from schools in conjunction with information from ga.milesplit.com