Leitner overcomes mishap at state meetNORTHFIELD — Red Wing senior Christian Leitner ran one of his best races at the Class 2A state meet at St. Olaf College Saturday, but some what-ifs may linger.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
NORTHFIELD — Red Wing senior Christian Leitner ran one of his best races at the Class 2A state meet at St. Olaf College Saturday, but some what-ifs may linger.
Leitner finished 61st overall with a time of 16 minutes, 42 seconds on the 5-kilometer course in his second consecutive appearance at state. The time set a new best for Leitner on the course, but it might have been better.
As he made his way through the second loop of the course a runner spiked Leitner on the back of his ankle and his shoe came off. Faced with the option of leaving the shoe behind and running the rest of the way shoeless or taking the time to put the shoe back on, Leitner chose the latter and he lost ground.
“I was just like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ‘This has to happen to me?’ ‘Why me?’” Leitner said.
Leitner put the ordeal out of his mind quickly, he said, but he lost around 20 spots in the time it took to fix his shoe. Leitner was running near the top 25 at the time and wanted an all-state finish in his final meet of his career.
“Other than that I had a great pace going and I ended up catching a lot of people, but it just wasn’t enough,” Leitner said.
Leitner said he gained around 15-20 spots after he fixed his shoe.
“It’s just a freak thing,” Wingers cross-country coach Jesse Nelson said. “Nothing he could have controlled, nothing he could have done about it.”
Leitner’s experience from last year’s meet helped him Saturday. Leitner paced himself better through the first mile than a year ago and was in good position for a top 25-finish.
“I really was happy with the way he went in his first mile,” Nelson said. “I thought he was in an optimal spot.”
Leitner had never broke 17 minutes at the St. Olaf course and that was with both shoes on the entire race.
“It’s even more impressive considering his shoe came off,” Nelson said.