Marshall Leonard was named N.C. Wesleyan's head cross country coach in the spring of 2017.
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.
This past season was the restart of the Men's program that was in existence for one year back in 2010 while the Women's program is going into its 2nd year under new leadership from Leonard. The men's team showed promise after their 1st season under Leonard while the 2018 team looks to continue growth as they bring in talented recruits.
The women's team showed great improvement throughout the 2017 season by beating D1 and D2 teams after going winless the previous 3 seasons. The women will also make huge improvements in 2018 and look to have their best season in school history with the addition of some new talented recruits added to the roster. Leonard says that his team's future goals are to win the USA South Conference Championships on our way to being competitive at the National level.
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 talented runner 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, ranging from high jump and hurdles to the 1- and 2-mile 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 here."
He continued, "My goal 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."
In addition to his coaching duties, Leonard will aid in the development of a cross country trail on campus. He will also be organizing several running events for students, faculty, and staff.