HR Pod: Leah O’Connor, Professional Runner and Former Michigan State Standout

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Photo by James Rogers

Leah O’Connor.


Host James Rogers sits down with professional runner and former Michigan State standout Leah O’Connor for an expansive conversation. Now based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the 27-year-old discusses her hometown roots, decorated MSU career and pro running roller-coaster ride. Topics also include mental health, faith, writing, farm life, support systems and Harper (her dog).

At MSU, Leah captured multiple Big Ten titles—cross country, indoor track, outdoor track—and won a national title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (June 2014) and indoor mile (March 2015). She was a member of the undefeated 2014 MSU women’s cross-country team coached by Walt Drenth that won the national title in dominating fashion.

Leah’s 9:18.85 personal record in the 3K steeplechase set in May 2016 makes her the fifth-fastest American ever in the women’s steeple. Now sponsored by HOKA and coached by Dathan Ritzenhein, Leah is a member of the Gazelle Elite Racing Team.

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Michigan State’s National XC Title Deserves Your Attention


The Michigan State University women’s cross-country team captured the NCAA Division I national title on Saturday in Terre Haute, Indiana, but I have to believe the MSU football team’s 42-point drubbing of Rutgers received more coverage over the weekend.

Regardless, I’m here to celebrate the cross-country title and the sensational 2014 season put together by the Spartans. A team from the Mitten taking home a national championship trophy makes me, a Michigan resident, proud. Continue reading