Skyler McLeod is packing a lot of memories into his senior year at Pleasant Valley.
On Monday, he and his cross-country teammates received massive rings to commemorate the 3A state championship they won in the fall, the school’s first in any boys’ sport.
McLeod finished fifth individually in 17 minutes, 14.69 seconds, 25 seconds back of winner Cooper Reynolds of Westminster-Oak Mountain.
In McLeod’s first year of high school wrestling, and the program’s second year of existence, McLeod is one of two Raider wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament. He and Treven Coheley begin competition today in Huntsville, McLeod in the 145-pound class and Coheley in 160.
McLeod is 25-7 on the year and finished third at the Calhoun County tournament.
As if that’s not enough, McLeod still has baseball and track season ahead.
Suffice to say, McLeod likes to compete. He’s done it well enough in cross country to get the chance to run in college, at Jacksonville State. He signed in the fall.
But a competitor like McLeod has a fun side. He enjoys a good game of Fortnite and winds down by watching the Disney Channel.
Amazingly, he had time to sit down with Star Sports Writer Joe Medley and tackle 10 questions:
Question: Now that you guys have gotten the rings, and history has settled in, what are your reflections on the cross-country season and what it meant to Pleasant Valley?
Answer: I guess it’s a pretty big deal, being the first boys’ team to ever do it, and stuff. We train so hard just to get to that point. Bayside (the second-place team) at state, we weren’t even worrying about them. We thought it was St. Bernard and Houston Academy, and they (Bayside) came out of nowhere, and that was a huge scare for us. I guess all of that hard work paid off.
Q: Give us an idea of the process you guys went through?
A: We started running right when summer started. Matisse (Miller, Class of 2018) was the one who got us all together, and we’d go run on the Ladiga Trail with him and stuff. He’d text us every week. We’d run about two days a week, probably, just to get ready for cross-country season.
Q: What have you guys heard from Matisse and other guys who were here for the second-place finishes at state in 2016 and 2017?
A: Isaiah Rodriguez, he was on the first runner-up team. He came here this year, when we won the state championship, and he’s super proud of us. Matisse, he’s in the Army now, and he Snapchatted me, telling me how proud he was of us and how we deserved it. That was pretty cool. He texted after we won the championship and after we got rings.
Q: Take me back to that cold day in November, when you guys are standing on the medal stand in Oakville. What was the feeling then?
A: It’s unbelievable, as soon as they showed us the picture of the scoreboard. We were all just sitting in our tents. We all just freaked out. It was a crazy moment. We knew it was going to be close (the Raiders won by three points). Coach told us. He knew it was going to come down to our six and seven (first two non-scoring runners), and they just showed out that day. It was a crazy feeling.
Q: You took on wrestling this school year, as well. After going through a grueling cross-country season, what got you interested in wrestling?
A: Last year, during PE, and stuff, we’d all mess around on the mat, just wrestling on stuff. I’d whup up on some of my friends, and they said I was pretty good, and I needed to come out for wrestling the next year, so I did. Now, I’m here.
Q: What does it mean to you to qualify for state in your one year of wrestling?
A: I didn’t really know what to expect. In cross country, qualifying for state was never really that, like, hard, because I’ve always had a good team with me, but going out there? I was in the blood round for state. It was me and another guy to see who would go to state, and he seemed really good. I guess I got him in a good position and then put him in a cradle and stuff. Once I won that match, I just freaked out, because I never expected to make it all the way to state. That was a great feeling.
Q: What celebrity’s autograph would you like to have?
A: I think Miley Cyrus. I don’t know. When I was little, I watched Hannah Montana, and I just thought she was so pretty, and stuff. I joke around with my friends about I’m going to take her to prom. She’s my celebrity crush, I guess.
Q: If you had an extra $20, how would you spend it?
A: V-bucks in Fortnite. There’re skins you can buy to make your character look cool, and it costs V-bucks to buy them.
Q: No matter how old you get, what’s something you don’t think you’ll ever grow out of?
A: Disney Channel. I just love the shows, always have, since I was little. I like the Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Suite Life on Deck. I love those.
Q: If you could choose to live anywhere in the world where would you prefer to live?
A: I guess Australia, because it’s kind of exotic and kangaroos. I’ve always liked kangaroos, that and flamingos. Those are my favorite animals.