Leahey finished in 77th place overall with a time of 33 minutes, while Sprague was 78th with a time of 33:04 – both personal-best times – on the 10K (6.2-mile) course that started at Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead and wound its way down Peachtree Road and 10th Street to the finish line at Piedmont Park in Midtown.
For Leahey, who graduated from Marist in May after a successful high school cross country and track career, it was a dramatic improvement over his Peachtree time of 35:00 of a year ago.
“I am very happy with the race I ran this year,” Leahey said. “The thing about Peachtree is that I always forget about how tough the course is. But, I ran a good race and the weather was pretty cool, so that helped a lot.”
For Leahey, who finished fourth in the state track meet in the 3,200-meter run and fifth in the state in cross country in Class AAAA as a senior at Marist last season, a stronger training regiment made all the difference in his improved performance.
“I was doing, maybe, 50 miles a week last year,” Leahey said. “I did 90 miles [the week before the race] and 85 miles the week before, so I’ve putting a lot more mileage this year.”
Leahey will now try to continue his running career on the college level at Princeton, where he will attempt to earn a spot on the cross country team as a walk-on.
Sprague was only a few seconds behind Leahey as he improved on his Peachtree time of 34:56 from 2012.
“Coming into [the race], I had no expectations,” Sprague said. “I went out the first three miles pretty conservative. I ran my first 5K [3.1 miles] in 16:14 and after that, I was still feeling good. It was a great race.”
Sprague now begins to focus on his senior season at St. Pius, where he won the Class AAA boys’ individual cross country championship and was the state track champion in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs last season.
Nancy Meck certainly proved that she deserved her super-seeded status as the 41-year old Buckhead resident finishing with a personal-best time of 38:28 to place sixth among the masters’ (40-and-over) women and was the 49th-place woman overall.
“It was really exciting to be there among the top women runners,” Meck said. “I didn’t try to race against the top women – I just tried to run my own race, to race against the clock. It was a [personal-best time], so I was very excited by the race I ran.”
Marist’s Michael Thurston – the AAAA boys’ state cross country champion — finished 144th overall with a time of 35:01, while St. Pius cross country coach Ryan McClay (157th, 35:15) and Pace’s Josh Rogers (173rd, 35:29) were among the other top local finishers.