Elizabeth Leachman Opens 2023 With 16:34 5K

Elizabeth Leachman (Boerne Champion) races towards the finish line at the 2022 UIL 5A State Cross Country Championships

The last we saw of Elizabeth Leachman was in mid-June when she ran a 9:57 two-mile at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. That run ended up being a freshman class national record and the Texas No. 3 all-time girls performance.

Today, she began her sophomore cross country season at the Austin Westlake Chaparral XC Invitational picking up on grass where she left off on the track.

Today's performance from the Boerne Champion second year runner was a 16:34.10 run for the 5,000m course. That was a full two minutes and 20 second ahead of the second place runner's finishing time of 18:54.

Overall Finish List - Girls
O'All Place	Score	Bib No	Name	Team	Time	Pace	Year
1	1	1429	Elizabeth Leachman	Boerne Champion	16:34.10	5:20/M	10
2	(< 5)	1703	Mia Perez	Smithson Valley	18:54.30	6:05/M	11
3	2	1565	Taylor Grona	Fredericksburg	18:57.50	6:06/M	12
4	3	1563	Ann Claire Cop	Fredericksburg	19:12.80	6:11/M	12
5	4	1579	Dennie Decker	Georgetown High	19:23.20	6:14/M	12
6	5	1595	Emily Morales	Georgetown High	19:24.60	6:15/M	12

For context on how fast that time is, consider this, the top two all-time 5K performances by Texas girls are 16:03 by Natalie Cook (Flower Mound) in 2020 and 16:12 by Brynn Brown (Denton Guyer) in 2021. Leachman's performance would also rank her in the top-5 nationally at the end of each of the past five cross country seasons.

Over the course of the 2022 track and field season, we found out that Leachman has a propensity to start off fast, push things even harder in the middle, and deal with however things pan out in the end. In some of those races, the ending didn't have the best outcomes.

Today's race was a similar tune. Boerne Champion Head Coach Jonathan Tate said, "With today's race, we really wanted her to control her first 2K. However, she really has a hard time with that and she was fast out of the gate."

Instead of reining the thoroughbred in, Tate has been teaching and training Leachman how to deal with hitting that lactic threshold.

"She'll have no problem getting out fast in the big races, so ultimately that's a good thing," Tate shared.  The other good bit of news is that she appears to be handling the strategy of dealing with fatigue well.

"She is driven in a way that makes one go from really good, to great, to whatever is beyond great. If we can keep her on track, she has a chance to do something special at state and beyond that as well."

Jonathan Tate, Boerne Champion head coach

Even with today's fast start and running at a 5:20 clip per mile, Leachman thought she could have pushed even more in the second mile. "She was consistent and really strong from beginning to end," said Tate.

At the UIL 5A state track meet, Leachman won the 1600m state title. For the season, she ran PRs of 4:47 in the 1600m and 10:17 in the 3200m. She was the third ranked freshman nationally in the 1600m and ranked second in the 3200m to go with her two-mile national record.

Confidence and belief in Leachman's ability is building and that goes far beyond Boerne Champion and the Texas track and field community. It now includes Nike and the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation (NSAF). They have selected Leachman to be in their first ever class of high school ambassadors for the sport.

Today's outstanding run could be just the tip of the iceberg this season for Leachman. Tate said, "Since the end of cross country last year, Elizabeth figured out what she needed to do and she's been crushing it. She's had a couple of bumps along the way, but she is driven in a way that makes one go from really good, to great, to whatever is beyond great."

2022 UIL 5A State Track and Field Girls 1600

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We were waiting to see if Leachman could transition her success on the track to the current cross country season. She entered with a 19:05 personal best at the 5,000m distance, but has already demolished that.

Fast seems to be the preferred way for her. "We discovered that she just couldn't do easy runs and remail 100%," Tate shared. "She trains with our No. 2 and No. 3 boys who are no slouches; they are really good for her."

Leachman could possibly take shots at the national high school record of 15:58 by Jenna Hutchins (TN) from 2020. "As we started doing our 1K repeats a couple of weeks ago, we knew for sure she would be in the 16s and if she gets the right course in the low 16 or better."

"I think the 5K suits her more than the shorter distances. if we can keep her on track, she has a chance to do something special at state and beyond that as well."