The record-breaking races of sprinters Jeremy Mooney and Glenmour Leonard-Osbourne, both of whom joined the team as walk-ons, are testaments to their dedication and talent.
Track and field is as intricate a sport as any other. The sport may seem like simply running as fast as you can to the untrained eye. But, it actually takes obsessive attention to detail and unwavering focus. In sprinting events, runners only have fractions of seconds to make adjustments that could make or break their performance. Not every fast runner can succeed at the collegiate level of track.
Apparently, no one passed along the memo to Glenmour Leonard-Osbourne and Jeremy Mooney. Neither were recruited to run track at Marist. They set records in sprint events anyway, doing so when it seemed the most unlikely.
In June of 2018, before Mooney became a freshman, he reached out to track and field head coach Pete Colaizzo. He sought to run track at Marist despite not doing so at the high school level. He was a soccer player and sent Colaizzo time trials, so he took a flyer on him despite having no experience. “He had never been out of starting blocks until he got here,” Colaizzo said.
Mooney made a good impression with his hard work and early success. At the MAAC Championships for the winter season in his freshman year, he placed 16th in the 60 meter dash. At the outdoor championships in the spring, 10th in the 200 meter dash and 15th in the 100 meter dash.
At the MAAC Championships his sophomore year, Mooney placed 14th in the 60 meter dash and beat his mark from last season by 0.17 seconds. He didn’t get the chance to run in the spring season, as it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he more than showed that he belonged. “His improvement has been exponential,” Colaizzo said.
In that winter season, Marist track welcomed another newcomer that Mooney helped recruit. Leonard-Osbourne was recruited by Marist as a football player but decided to pick up track and become a two-sport athlete. But unlike Mooney, Leonard-Osbourne had experience succeeding at track. As a senior in high school, he won silver medals in both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes.
“I’ll never forget the first time I saw him practicing on the track,” Colaizzo said. Right away, he noticed how explosive Leonard-Osbourne was, saying that he had never seen explosiveness like that. After just a handful of practices with the track team, Leonard-Osbourne immediately put his talents to good use.
In his first ever race, he annihilated a program record by running the 60 meter dash in 6.88 seconds. The previous record, set in 2012 by Jesse Aprile, was 7.13 seconds. A week after beating that record, Leonard-Osbourne beat his own record in the MAAC Championships with a time of 6.81 seconds. At the IC4A/ECAC Championships, he ran 6.73 in the 60 meter dash preliminaries, making him the only freshman to secure a spot in the final, in which he placed third with a time of 6.83 seconds.
Leonard-Osbourne’s success was made all the more impressive considering the room he had for improvement. Colaizzo said that his start out of blocks “still needed work. But he has so much natural explosiveness that he was able to just jump on the track and do what he did.”
Of course, Leonard-Osbourne never got a chance at a spring season, as the pandemic kept the track and field team inactive for roughly a year. They didn’t have a winter season and had a shortened spring 2021 season. The time off proved to be consequential for the team, both in its favor and against.
The bad news was that Leonard-Osbourne’s brief time with the team would end up being the only time he spent. He entered the transfer portal after Marist canceled its winter season, according to Nancy Haggerty of lohud.com, and popped up on the radar of several big programs across the country: Duke University, the University of Michigan, the University of Louisville, and the University of Oklahoma among them.
This past February, Leonard-Osbourne decided to take his talents to Kentucky and join Louisville. The Cardinals’ head coach, Dale Cowper, said that Leonard-Osbourne had the right characteristics for his program. He sees him as a great addition to a sprinting unit that features All-ACC second team member Sterling Warner-Savage, who recently broke the school’s 100 meter-dash record with a time of 10.26 seconds.
“The guys will be able to push each other on a similar training program and the guys will be able to push forward our short relay,” Cowper said, “and that’s definitely one of the places we’re looking to continue to expand and to improve.”
The fact that Leonard-Osbourne hasn’t competed in a spring season in three years is of no concern to Cowper. “That’s probably part of the exciting thing: the full-time commitment to the sport of track and field,” he said.
While the Marist sprinters lost one of its key pieces, they also saw the blossoming of its leader.
Mooney was named a captain after the 2020 spring season officially closed. Colaizzo, who usually doesn’t name juniors to be captains, said he was a natural fit despite having a more reserved, quiet personality. In the shortened 2021 spring season, Mooney let the results fully show his leadership.
In April, Mooney placed first at Stockton University’s Osprey Twilight Meet despite the team only being able to hold official practices a week before it. And while distance runners can take advantage of the entire area and train by jogging on and around campus, sprinters need guidance and smooth, straight strips of land to practice on. Having to train individually is made all the more difficult because Marist’s campus doesn’t have a track. The one that the team usually uses at nearby Vassar College wasn’t open.
“Once practice started, we were fine tuning it, but everything that he accomplished in the three meets that ran really was a direct correlation to the work that he did on his own,” Colaizzo said of Mooney.
The absence of typical training sessions didn’t slow Mooney down one bit. He broke the program’s 100-meter dash record twice in the span of a week during championship meets in May. He ran 11.02 seconds at the MAAC Championships, which placed fourth, and six days later ran 10.98 at the IC4A Championships, which placed 13th in the preliminary round.
Colaizzo said that during his time as the Red Foxes’ head coach — a stint that began in 1991 — Mooney’s record breaking run was “maybe one of the more remarkable individual achievements ever. And I generally don’t talk in superlatives like that, but Jeremy is a special one.” With two more years of eligibility, Mooney is set to continue to lead Marist’s sprinters unit and see more chances to break records.
While Osbourne-Leonard and Mooney didn’t have the chance to be a dynamic duo, they already left a legacy in the program. Both of them walked onto the team and sprinted their way into Marist’s history books, performing at levels that Colaizzo, who has coached Marist for over 30 years, had never seen before.
Edited by Conor Kurpat and Bridget Reilly
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics