NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont University Cross Country Program Director Jeff Langdon announced the signings of two high school standouts to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday that he hopes can help lift the Bruins to a new high.
Distance runners Taylor Cuneo (Lascassas, Tenn.) and Jacob McLeod (Dublin, Ga.), the No. 17 ranked recruit in the nation, will join Belmont for the 2018 fall cross country season. McLeod, the reigning Gatorade Runner of the Year in Georgia, has been a mainstay in the Flo50 rankings for the Class of 2018. Cuneo is a two-time Gatorade winner for the state of Tennessee.
"This program is on the edge of some great things and we think Jacob and Taylor can be key parts of that," Langdon said. "We've made great progress and we're really pleased with the type of kids we're attracting to our program right now."
Belmont is excited to welcome signee Jacob McLeod (Trinity Christian/Dublin, Ga.) to the family!— Belmont Runners (@BelmontXCTF) November 15, 2017
McLeod is the #17 ranked HS runner IN THE NATION and the younger brother of Bruin soph. Kaleb McLeod!#ItsBruinTime pic.twitter.com/fxptbuV2o5
McLeod is the younger brother of Belmont redshirt sophomore Kaleb McLeod, who finished 21st at the NCAA South Regional just last week. But that connection is only part of the reason the Trinity Christian School senior is excited to join the Bruins.
He sees potential brewing in Nashville and wants to get in on the action.
"I think that Belmont is gaining momentum and I wanted to be a part of taking it to the national level," the younger McLeod said. "I felt like I really wanted to make a big difference in the program.
"I think that we can do big things as a team and it's also very exciting to train and compete with Kaleb."
McLeod won his third consecutive Georgia high school state cross country title in October. Now he's preparing for the Foot Locker South Regional, hoping to better his eighth-place finish there from a year ago. That qualified him for the 2016 Foot Locker Nationals where he took 15th.
Belmont is excited to welcome signee Taylor Cuneo (Central Magnet/Lascassas, Tenn.) to the Bruin family! Cuneo is a 2-time TN Gatorade XC Runner of the Year! pic.twitter.com/Y0qrxoVPHW— Belmont Runners (@BelmontXCTF) November 15, 2017
Cuneo burst on the scene as a freshman at Central Magnet High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She won the state cross country title and ran to fourth at the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional and eighth at the Nike Cross Nationals Final.
She also won state as a sophomore and notched her second Gatorade honor for the fall of 2015 before her junior and senior seasons were hampered by injuries.
"I've toured some other programs, but I just felt at home at Belmont," Cuneo said. "The team atmosphere was great. I'm really excited to join a team that's really committed to running at a high level, putting their heart and soul into both their sport and academics."
The Belmont men finished third at the Ohio Valley Conference Championships this season and 11th at Regionals. The Bruin women were second at the conference meet at 14th at Regionals.
THE JACOB McLEOD FILE
Hometown – Dublin, Ga.
High school – Trinity Christian
1600 – 4:14.77
3200 – 9:06.19
5K (XC) – 14:50.22
Awards and performances
3-time Georgia AAA state XC champion
8th place at 2016 Foot Locker South Regional
15th at 2016 Foot Locker Nationals
2016 Georgia Gatorade Runner of the Year
Read Jacob's interview with MileSplit.com.
THE TAYLOR CUNEO FILE
Hometown – Lascassas, Tenn.
High school – Central Magnet
1600 – 5:05.93
3200 – 10:52.69
5K (XC) – 17:05.23
Awards and performances
2-time Tennessee A-AA state XC champion
8th place at 2014 Nike Cross Nationals Final
19th place at 2015 Nike Cross Nationals Final
2014 and 2015 Georgia Gatorade Runner of the Year