By Jayden Presley, Sports editor
Joe Leventry’s presence as a runner for UM’s cross-country team dates back to when he was a sophomore in high school.
While he was at Hoover High School many of the seniors on his team committed to UM’s cross-country team. He says he used to stay on campus on weekends with his friends, since it was only 17 miles away, and would also practice with the team.
Leventry says that he got to know the coaching staff well before he committed to the Falcons. He says the coaching staff have made a huge impact on the cross-country and track and field programs for the past few years.
“One thing that I would say a lot of my success comes from is our coaches. The care and compassion that they give to the team is just incredible. It’s more than just, ‘Hey, go get your mileage in.’ They’ll always help out with anything they can and exhaust their resources until they can help you,” he said.
Outside of cross-country, Leventry is a senior business management major who plans to stay another year for his MBA. After college, he wants to stay in the running industry, and says it is important for him to work for a company that invests in local businesses.
Leventry placed 15th in the Gulf South Conference his freshman year, which boosted his confidence. The COVID-19 pandemic rendered him unable to compete his sophomore year, but he placed second in the GSC his junior year.
Cross-country started rough last season for Leventry. Due to IT band syndrome in his right leg, he couldn’t run for a month. Their opening meet was a Memphis 4-miler, so he ran six days straight to prepare.
“I biked because I thought you could do that. But then I learned later on that you’re not supposed to do that because it’s still straining the IT band,” he said. “That even prolonged my recovery.”
The men’s cross-country team finished 4th in the GSC in Clinton, Mississippi this past season where Leventry placed 5th overall. At regionals, he qualified for the Division II National Championships by placing 11th.
“Getting fifth at cross-country, it was like a moral win, although it wasn’t the highest I’ve ever placed. It was still a really big deal for me at that time. That helped build a lot of confidence going into regionals,” said Leventry.
At UM, Leventry said cross-country runners will be distance runners on the track team, but not all track athletes will be cross-country runners. Both teams will train together to prepare for the season. Leventry says track season started off well after healing from his prior injuries.
“During track this year, it was definitely special, because I had my legs under me at that point. I had been training for six months, I had a really good base, really good workouts, and I stepped on the track and raced eight times,” he said.
Leventry set six school records at the GSC championships this season, as well as his team setting an overall school record by placing 4th in men’s track and field.
“I had set a lot of individual school records, but it’s way different when you do it with your teammates and everyone’s a part of it,” Leventry said.
Leventry gave advice for student athletes fresh out of high school. For cross-country athletes, he says take it slow, since four years is a long time.
He said, “I think its really important not to get too caught up in everything. Especially in running, it can become your entire life. It can become everything you do. Having other hobbies is definitely something I would recommend. Your freshman year is just going to be a learning curve.”