Madison Edgewood senior Leo Richardson looks ahead to a future running career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he hopes to find his stride both athletically and academically. We caught up with the WIAA Division 2 State XC champ to talk about how everything fell into place.
Congrats to Leo on committing to Wisconsin, and thanks again for taking the time to talk with MileSplit Wisconsin!
MileSplit WI: What got you into running and motivated you to stick with it?
Leo Richardson: I actually began running in middle school where I was part of a cross country club that met once a week. We had a couple meets and some workouts too, but it never really felt like an official team. I think that's kind of why I wanted to run in high school, just to get that full team experience.
My dad was also a really big inspiration for me when I started running. He and his brother Bob ran cross country for Oregon High School back in the day and they were also super successful at it - so those are some of the main things that inspired me to become a runner.
MileSplit WI: What was the most challenging part of getting to the success you have today?
Leo Richardson: I would say there have definitely been some challenges along the way. Luckily I wasn't affected by too many injuries, but what's tough for me is when you just feel like you've hit a wall in your training. So I'd say it's really just about pushing myself to get past that point so I can see my results improve.
MileSplit WI: What made Wisconsin stand out to you? You said you were seeking that team experience when you were first getting into the sport - was that a factor here too?
Leo Richardson: I've always kind of looked up to Madison's running program, I mean they have awesome coaches and such a great team culture. I remember going to a UW-Madison running camp maybe a year back and it was an awesome experience to get to know some of the people on the team and get to run with them too. It really opened my eyes and made me think, "It would be so cool to be a part of this team," and I'm just really grateful to have been given the opportunity to run for Madison.
On the other hand, academically speaking, I want to major in supply chain management, which is a business major. Starting this coming year, Madison is offering a specific degree in supply chain, which is awesome.
So when I got the call from Coach Kennedy offering me the opportunity to run as a Badger, I kind of felt like all the stars aligned.
MileSplit WI: So you got that offer and everything fell into place, but what was the recruiting process like leading up to that point?
Leo Richardson: The college recruiting experience this year was different, just because of COVID. I hadn't talked face-to-face with coaches of the colleges I looked at, we had to talk over Zoom or just on the phone, so it was really tough and I just feel really lucky to have had a season so that coaches had something to look at. I didn't even really have a track season last year, so yeah it was super tough.
MileSplit WI: What would you say is your biggest goal for your time at UW, running-wise or academically?
Leo Richardson: I would say my biggest goal for running in college is to get out there, push myself, and find my limit. I'll definitely have some guys on the team that I can look up to and I think having competitive races will help me push myself even more.
Apart from running, I just want to get out there and meet new people and discover some interests. I think it'll really be a great fresh start for me.
MileSplit WI: Looking back, do you have any favorite races or running memories you want to share?
Leo Richardson: A favorite race I had was my first race freshman year at the Cam-Rock Invite in Cambridge. There are a lot of races that stand out to me, but that one in particular does because it was the one race I ran on JV. I was just new to cross country in high school, but I ended up taking second and my team was super excited for me. I went up to get my medal and they were just really cheering me on - they were like, "He's a freshman!" and it was super fun.
A favorite running story - one time we were doing a 400 repeat workout down at Wingra Park and it was a super hot day and we did like 20 repeats around the field. Afterwards we just jumped into the lake because it was so hot.
MileSplit WI: Any final thoughts?
Leo Richardson: There's just so much more that college has to offer, and I'm so excited to take on what Madison has to offer academically and athletically.