Leonardtown's Leya Essex earned numerous All-State honors in the sprints and relays for the 4A classification and was the 4A East Regional champ indoors in the 300 and 400 this past year. Essex earned several gold medals last summer in Israel competing at the Maccabiah Games and finished high school with PR's of 12.33 in the 100 24.61 in the 200, 40.72 in the 300, and 57.32 in the 400 before she heads off to the fall to continue competing in track at East Carolina University.
Name: Leya Essex
School: Leonardtown High School
What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?
My most memorable race was the 4x2 this year at states. My team broke our school record by over a second, and we finished second in the state.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
My biggest competition was Taylor Wright and the girls from C.H. Flowers.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was winning four gold medals in Israel last summer. I ran the 200, 400, 4x1, and 4x4. It was incredible.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
I wish I had started doing more weight training my freshman and sophomore year. I didn't seriously start lifting until my junior year, and I feel like my times could be faster if I had started sooner.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
This past outdoor season, I had a soft tissue injury in my left knee. It was very difficult sitting out of practice and meets. I felt like I couldn't contribute to my team as much as I had in previous years.
What will you miss the most?
I'll miss going to states every year with my teammates. We always had so much fun the night after the first day of competition. I'll definitely miss the coaches- they've had such an impact on me these past four years.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
This sport can only take you as far as you let it. Train with the fast kids, it can only help you.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
All of my coaches have helped me to become a better athlete and person. My high school and club coaches have all helped me with my form, strength and speed. My lifting coach has always pushed me to my limits. I've formed such close bonds with all of them, I know I can talk to them about anything.
What are your college plans?
I will be running track for East Carolina University and studying exercise physiology.
Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
I want to thank my family for being so supportive. They were at every meet taking pictures, splits, and cheering the team on. Their level of commitment to my team was so invaluable. I also want to thank Coach Snyder for being so patient with me over the years. He always pushed me to train with the big dogs, and he was always there to cheer for me during a good race and console me after a bad one.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
The next four years will go by faster than you might think. Make the most of them.