Freshman runner ends ASC dry spell

Freshman runner Cannon Leavitt placed third at the Red River Shootout Sept. 28. Photo by Albert Ramirez | Mercury Staff.

After running 8 kilometers in 26 minutes and 10.76 seconds, a UTD men’s cross country runner earned the title of American Southwest Conference runner of the week for the first time since 2010.

Undecided freshman Cannon Leavitt placed third at the Red River Shootout on Sept. 28. His time was the second-fastest recorded in the conference this season and Leavitt’s personal record. The race was held at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Perkins near Burkburnett, approximately 140 miles east of Dallas. The course had several turns and elevation changes, which head coach Danielle Kcholi said made the competition especially difficult. Leavitt said there were logs and branches to jump over on the course, but the effects they had on his time were negligible.

UTD was the only Division III school at the meet. Midwestern State University, which hosted the race, is a Division II school.

Leavitt recently competed at the Bill Libby Invite in Abilene, Texas on Oct. 13, where he was the highest scoring men’s runner and placed third. Overall, UTD came in second at the meet with a total of 58 points. Leavitt previously competed at the Chili Pepper Festival on Sept. 21, where he finished the race with a time of 26 minutes and 34.3 seconds. The festival hosts 441 runners in the men’s 8-kilometer event. Leavitt said the atmosphere of such a large race made it his favorite of the season.

“It’s just a race where people go to run fast.” Leavitt said. “I thought I ran a good race (and) went hard.”

Leavitt came to UTD’s cross country team from Twin Falls High School in Idaho, where he injured his knee during the beginning of his senior year. Leavitt still managed to win three of his last five races of his high school career. He said he took time off to recover in the summer but is back to training normally.

“I’ve been getting back in to it,” Leavitt said. “I feel it every once in a while, but it’s been holding up.”

At Twin Falls, Leavitt was named the Great Basin Conference Runner of the Year in 2015 and again in 2017 when he won the Dani Bates Invitational and the Great Basin Conference title.

“He’s a great kid,” Kcholi said. “This is just the beginning for Cannon, and that’s the most exciting part. It’s just getting started.”

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