Downingtown East’s Caiden Leen is 2021 DLN Boys Long Distance Runner of the Year – PA Prep Live

Downingtown East senior Caiden Leen, 2021 Daily local news All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, saved his best performance of the fall season to last, as he finished sixth at the PIAA 3A Cross Country State Championships and helped the Cougar Boys to get a third place by team.
“At the start of our pre-season summer training, Coach [Austin] Tobelmann sat us down and discussed potential goals, and our main goal, if we did everything right, was for our team to finish in the top three in the US, ”said Leen. “Achieving this goal was like nothing else because we had been working on it for so long. I’m so proud of how hard we’ve all worked and what we’ve accomplished this season as a team.
Individually, Leen was Chester County’s top player in the boys’ 3A race, five places behind winner CJ Singleton of Butler (15: 52.9). Leen and teammate Brendan Flynn won the first individual medals in the PIAA State competition in Downingtown East men’s cross country history.
“It was my best race of the season,” said Leen, who was the Cougars’ MVP this fall. “I have to thank Coach Tobelmann for preparing me and my teammates perfectly in the United States, both physically and mentally.”
What made it even sweeter was that Leen bounced back from a 2020 cross country season that was limited and frustrating for many runners in the region due to COVID.
“Last fall [in 2020], our team finished second in Districts, which in a normal season would have given us a spot in the States, but due to COVID only one team was able to make it to the States, ”Leen said. “And I got Lyme disease at the end of the season and I couldn’t run as fast as I would have liked.
“I had Lyme disease for most of the cross country season, but I wasn’t diagnosed until the playoffs. For a while I thought I was feeling very tired from too much work myself. Fortunately, I was able to fully recover after taking a course of antibiotics during my break between cross-country skiing and winter.
This past spring, Leen had a great track season, finishing 10th in the men’s 1600m in States (4: 21.09) and fifth in the 1600m in Districts with a score of 4: 20.62.
“After running fast on the track last spring, I knew if I trained hard I could do very well in cross country this season,” said Leen. “Our team was also in a perfect place to do well, which made me even more motivated to work harder. I wouldn’t have done as well as if I hadn’t had amazing teammates who supported me and worked hard alongside me.
This fall, Leen placed third in Districts, third at the Ches-Mont Championships and won All-State Second Team honors.
Throughout the 2021 cross country season, Leen has worked to improve his state of mind.
“During my junior year I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to perform, and it ended up negatively impacting my training and my races because I was getting really anxious,” said Leen. “This year I really focused on trying to get back to my routes with running. I run because I like it – I like to work hard at it and I like to show up to train with my teammates. It is nothing more than that. When I followed the line in all of my races this year I wasn’t overly nervous, I was ready to just go out there and do what I liked no matter what the outcome.
Tobelmann is impressed with Leen’s mental approach.
“Caiden, he has a high racing IQ, a passionate desire to improve every day and a fierce competitiveness that drives him to want to win, whether it’s on the cross country course or on a board game,” he said. said Tobelmann.
“Physically, Caiden is an incredibly strong runner which is crucial on the cross country course. This gives him the ability to run into the lead pack on a fast run, or on a more tactical course, he can sit up and close hard in the last mile. This is also seen in its lineup on the track, where Caiden has the ability to compete with the best in any event of 400 meters or longer.
“Caiden once said to me, ‘There are no limits.’ and I’m excited to see where that attitude takes him in the future. Next fall, Leen will travel to Penn State, where he will race cross country and track. Currently, he attends Downingtown STEM Academy, where his favorite course is physics.
Leen started cross country four years ago.
“In the fall of 8th grade I was overweight and wanted to stay in shape so I decided to try cross country because I thought I wasn’t good enough to be a part of. the college football team, ”Leen said. “I ended up being pretty good and really liked the sport so I decided to do it in high school.”
Leen credits Tobelmann and Flynn with their top cross-country mentors.
“The most influential person in my running career is Coach Tobelmann – not only has he provided me with the tools to become a better runner, he has helped me and continues to help me grow as a person. “Leen said. “He taught me the importance of pursuing the things we love and how to never give up on our dreams in the face of a setback.
“My training partner and best friend Brendan Flynn has also had a big impact on my running career. Since the first year he has pushed and supported me to be the best version of myself in racing and in everyday life, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Fun Facts – Caiden Leen
Favorite Running Shoes: “I use the Saucony Hurricanes for my easy days because of the stability they offer and their cushioning. For my training days, I use Saucony Endorphine gears. They’re really responsive and bouncy while providing plenty of cushioning. Overall these are just really nice shoes for running fast.
Favorite local race location: “The Bryn Coed Reserve. Over the summer we meet there for all of our training days, and there are endless trails through the woods and open land. Bryn Coed is perfect for tempos during the summer as he is on the grass and has hills and turns that perfectly simulate a cross country race.
Pre-race preparation: “I’m usually quite restless the day before a race, so I get up early in the morning. To pass the time, I watch youtube or listen to music. I then pack my bag and stop at Wawa on my way east to have breakfast and food for the day. When we get to the race site, we do a run / shakeout almost immediately. For the rest of the time, I will lie down in our team tent with my teammates and listen to music to have the right amount of space. We start our warm-up 45 minutes before the start of the race.
Other extracurricular activities: “I’m learning to play the guitar.
Favorite book: The fault of our stars.
Favorite TV Show: The Vampire Diaries.
Favorite movie: Fight Club.
Favorite athlete: Bryce Hoppel.
Favorite pre-race song: Helena from My Chemical Romance.
Favorite place to visit: Stowe, Vermont.
Favorite pre-race meal: a vanilla honey waffle and a banana.
The person I admire the most, and why: “Both of my parents, for how hard they worked to give me and my sister a good life. “
Family Members: Parents Mike and Lisa, Sister Sydney, Dog Gia.


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