By Marty Gordon
When Christiansburg High School’s Alex Watty takes to the track this fall at Concord University, he can look across the grass to see a former teammate. Nate Leichner has announced plans to run track at Concord.
Leichner said he chose Concord because they have a great science program, and the cross country team and coach are super friendly and talented. Watty announced his plans to attend the school last month.
At Concord, Leichner will run both cross country and track. “I hope to run the 10k and 8k during cross country season and the 10k, 5k and 3k during track season,” he said.
Concord, who is a member of the Mountain East Athletic Conference and is a NCAA Division II school, has several local connections.
Mike Cox is starting his 19th season as the head coach of the both the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams at Concord.
One of the top coaches in the region, Cox is a seven-time West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. Additionally, Cox has been awarded Mountain East Conference Coach of the Year five times to bring his career total to 12. In the fall of 2016, Cox earned his highest coaching honor to date as he was voted by his peers as the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association Atlantic Regional Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for guiding the team to an appearance at the NCAA Division II Championship Meet after finishing fourth at the regional meet. It was the first time in school and conference history that a team qualified for the national championship meet.
Prior to entering collegiate coaching Cox attended Virginia Tech, where he qualified for the USA Junior National cross country team as a freshman and competed internationally in Budapest, Hungary. At Virginia Tech, he was a member of seven conference championship teams. Individually, Cox was a three-time all-conference runner, a two-time Atlantic 10 10,000-meter run outdoor champion and an indoor 5,000-meter run conference champion.
In addition, former Christiansburg High runner’s Kenna and Bailey are seniors on this year’s squad at Concord. Hunter Thomas and Damon Akers are from Pulaski, and Samuel Haynes is from Carroll County and Raheem Williams from Giles.
Leichner ‘s junior year, he was 11th in cross country at the regional meet and 14th at the state meet, being named all-state. This past fall, he was fourth at the regional meet.
This past indoor season, he was second in the 3200m at the LU High School Opener, and fifth in the 1000m at the Holiday Track Classic.
His personal record in the 5000m in cross country is 16:22, the 3200m is 9:54, and the1600 record is 4:37.
Leichner plans to major in biology at Concord with a pre-medicine advisory and minor in sociology.
After his undergraduate work, Leichner hopes to go to medical school and someday become a doctor.
“My goal for off the track is to be involved on the campus with clubs and in the community with volunteering. I also hope to maintain grades good enough to make it into medical school in four years,” he said.