Senior Cross Country Runner Mike Leone Has Zero RegretsOctober 18, 2012
Senior cross country runner Mike Leone starting running in high school and he figured out pretty soon that he was good enough to run in college.
“I had a big improvement my junior of high school and I really brought my times down. I really started enjoying it more. At first it was something I did it because my group of friends did it. Then it started being something I got good at and enjoyed.”
Choosing a school in the south like UT was always in Leone’s plans. “I started looking at schools in the south because I hated running in the snow. I went to a college fair and marked off that I was interested in cross country and coach Vaknin emailed me asking if I wanted to come down for an official visit. Former teammate Tony Nicolosi talked up the team and the sports management program, which I was interested in. It’s been great. I have zero regrets.”
He says his favorite part of running is “just going out for a nice long run.”
“I think it kind of relaxes me. I feel productive after it and I really enjoy running with the guys.”
He really likes running under Coach Vaknin. “He is a casual guy and easy to talk to. He’s a real player’s coach.”
His favorite memory came in his junior year at UT. The Spartans made it to nationals for the second time in school history.
“It was pretty awesome last fall winning the Sunshine State Conference championship. It was the first time in school history and it was really cool.”
He believes this year could be memorable considering the amount of seniors on the squad. “We have five seniors on the team (Charles Toledo, Lewis Price, Jake Bailey, Tory Webb and I). I’ve been running with these guys all four years. It’s our last year and we’re all going out together. We’ve been motivated by knowing that this is the end of our careers, so we’re trying to make the most of it.”
The scrappy runner says his teammates gave him a nickname rather quickly. “The only. When I was a freshman some of the older guys called me that because it sounds like my last name, Leone.”
He says what drives him in sports is his teammates. “Its tough waking up early for practice but your teammates will be there to challenge you every day.”
Leone has a bright future ahead of him in the sports world, but he also wants to stay active in the sport of running. “I enjoy running, but I really want to get into triathlons. I have been interning with Iron Man since January and its been a good experience. I want to get into the sports industry; I’d like to work around the sport of running.”
Written by Jake Perper