Elizabeth Leachman Goes 2-For-2, Picks Up Outdoor 5K Record

* Elizabeth Leachman during the Texas Relays on Thursday

Photo Credit: University of Texas athletics

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AUSTIN -- Just how comfortable was Elizabeth Leachman on Thursday night during the Texas Relays? 

Well, midway through a record-breaking 5,000 meter effort in a collegiate field at Mike Myers Stadium, the Boerne Champion (TX) sophomore literally waved to the crowd -- specifically to a small group of high school friends from the San Antonio area school. 

"It really felt special and I just felt so lucky to have all that," she said. "I had a lot of teammates who are coming up tomorrow to compete that I didn't know that were going to be here tonight. So to get to see them and have them here supporting me meant so much. They are a big part of the reason I'm here." 

Perhaps that did the trick, because Leachman powered on toward her second high school national record over the last three weeks, claiming a new outdoor 5K record in 15:25.27 as she downed the field by roughly 35 seconds. 

The performance, an epic solo run that downed the meet record of 15:29.85 that had stood since 1984, also surpassed former Texan great Natalie Cook, who clocked a time of 15:25.93 in 2022 at the Stanford Invitational. 

While Leachman has not hit the U.S. Olympic Trials standard of 15:10 for 5,000 meters just yet, it's possible the 16-year-old could factor into the top 30 seeds for the meet by June. The Texan has already hit the minimum qualifying time of 15:45 twice and could have one more chance to race the distance before the meet begins on June 21. As it stands, Leachman's performance is the 16th-best American performance for the distance right now

"I really didn't know what to expect with this meet," she said. "It's definitely a little different on the outdoor oval than the indoor. I've looked up to Natalie for a long time. She's incredible. To be able to be here and to run anywhere close to where she did, I'm blessed." 

Interestingly enough, Leachman said Thursday's effort wasn't focused on a record. That, she said, came with a hard effort. 

"I wasn't really going into this race going after that," she said. "I know that's what a lot of people thought. But when I got to that last K, I kind of thought, 'OK, that's not what's going to happen. But that wasn't necessarily the goal anyway, so I wasn't too worried about it. When I felt good and I could pick it up that last lap, it was exciting." 

Leachman now owns both high school national records at the distance after securing the indoor mark of 15:28.90 on March 9 at Nike Indoor Nationals. 

Leachman accomplished the goal on Thursday with a zeroed-in focus as she began to surge past the field just 400 meters into the race. 

Like her first attempt at the beginning of the month, Leachman's plan required some controlled work early on. The Texan raced out over the first 1,600 meters in just under five minutes. 

With 800 meters to go, Leachman's job wasn't over. She needed a fast final laps -- roughly 2:22 -- but the Boerne Champion sophomore dug deep, clinging to her turnover over the final 200 meters as she clipped past the former mark, then fell over in exhaustion near the finish line. 

Afterward, Leachman walked over to her supporters, giving each of them a big hug. 

Photo Credit: University of Texas athletics

Related Links: 

Texas Relays meet page

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