Marshall Leonard was named N.C. Wesleyan's head cross country coach in the spring of 2017, and named the head Track & Field coach in the fall of 2018.
Leonard brings a wealth of cross country experience to both programs, having coached at Nash Central, Northern Nash, Southampton, and T.L. Hanna High Schools during his career.
The 2017 season was the restart of the Men's program that was in existence for one year back in 2010. The men's team showed promise after their 1st season under Leonard and the 2018 team continued the growth as they brought in talented recruits. During the 2018 season the men’s team beat multiple D1 and D2 teams, and brought home the 1st ever program win as they won the Greensboro Invitational. The men finished 5th out of 12 teams at the USA South conference championships, and finish 28th out of 33 teams at their 1st ever NCAA Regional Championships. The men’s team won the NCWC Breakthrough team and were nominated for other awards as well.
The 2018 men’s recruiting class came in and set a variety of school records, such as Christian Tippette’s 1500 meter run (4:14), Terenthen Parker's 10,000 meters (37:47), as well as Cameron Achilles's 400 meters (51.2) and 400 hurdles (1:04).
In 2019, Coach Leonard brought in the most talented recruiting class in the school’s history, with an NJCAA Runner-up National Champion in the 10K, Kenyan and Uganda runners, one runner that held the distance running record in his school’s history,another runner that ran in the NJCAA XC National Championships, and multiple sub 2-minute 800 meter runners. This recruiting class helped the team win 2 XC Invitationals, 7 wins over D1 teams, and 16 wins over D2 teams. The NCWC team hosted the USA South Conference Championships on Nov. 2, 2019, and the men’s team finished 5th (out of 13 teams) in a very closely contested race. This was the 1st time in school history that there were 2 All-Conference runners, with Christian Tippette (2nd team) and Andrew Bowen (3rd team) representing NCWC.
Leonard is a product of nearby Northern Nash High School, where he enjoyed a stellar career in cross country, as well as indoor and outdoor track. His prep tenure, in fact, saw the Leonard compete in multiple conference, regional, and state championships. He went on to start his coaching career at his alma mater, helping lead the Knights to the NCHSAA Indoor Track & Field State Championship before leaving to attend Anderson College in South Carolina. While at Anderson, he served as a volunteer assistant coach at T.L. Hanna High School, later departing for a four-year tour in the United States Navy. His military career saw him achieve recognition as a Quartermaster Second Class Petty Officer.
At the completion of his military duty, Leonard returned home to North Carolina where he re-entered the coaching ranks at Nash Central High School. During his stint at Nash Central, the Bulldogs produced multiple State Champions in various areas of track & field, such as high jump, hurdles, 1 mile, 2 mile, and 4x400 races. He also guided one student-athlete to recognition as the WRAL Extra Effort Award winner for her performances both athletically and academically. While coaching at Nash Central, Leonard resumed his college studies at Nash Community College and completed his undergraduate degree at Barton College in Health and Physical Education. He made the move to Southampton High School in 2015, where he served as a cross country and track coach for two seasons prior to joining the Battling Bishops.
An intense competitor, Leonard continued to hone his own personal skills well into his 30s by competing in the North Carolina State Games and the USA Track & Field Master’s Nationals in the 800 meter runs. He currently holds a USA Track & Field Level 1 and 2 certification with level 2 focus in endurance training.
Said Leonard, "I feel deeply honored and blessed to be given the opportunity to coach the men's and women's cross country teams at North Carolina Wesleyan College. Growing up in Rocky Mount, I ran many of my races on the Wesleyan campus, and I will now take great pride in coaching there."
"My goal," he continued, "is to bring in quality student-athletes that will represent the school in a positive light, while working hard to be competitive at the highest level. We are excited about the future of our cross country programs, and are looking forward to chasing our goals."