Susan Culler Leonard
Susan Culler Leonard was born April 17, 1971 in Ashland, Ohio to parents Doug and Jean Culler. Sports were an integral part of growing up in the Culler household. Susan strove to keep up with older brother Brian, who found success in many sports, ultimately playing soccer four years at Case Western University and many years since playing fast pitch softball all over the Midwest. Susan played a variety of sports early on, even on a few teams with all boys. Her parents were at every match or meet and were always encouraging.
Susan grew up playing tennis at Brookside Park and ultimately played three years of varsity tennis (two years at first singles) at Ashland High School under Coach Dave Leedy. At first singles, over two years, she amassed a 48-15 record. Pairing up with teammate Kim Simmons, the doubles team won the sectional tournament and placed third at districts, qualifying them for the state tournament in Culler’s junior year. She was also the First Federal Tournament First singles champion her senior year.
Culler flourished under Coach Dave Smalley in her four years of running track at Ashland High School. Junior High Coach Bob Lake and Assistant Coach Jack Lime were also an inspiration. She was a nine time conference champion, Ohio Heartland Conference track athlete of the year, and five time district champion. She was Regional Champion in the high jump her junior and senior years and state runner-up in the high jump her junior year. Setting a school record at Regionals with a jump of 5’8”. Learning to hurdle her junior year, setting a school record at Regionals with a jump of 5’8”. Learning to hurdle her junior year paid off, as she was the Regional Champion in the 300m hurdles her senior year and placed fourth in the state with another school record time of 44.1 seconds. Both records from 1988 and 1989, still stand today. She also was high jump champion at the Midwest Meet of Champions, representing Ohio her senior year. She competed in various events through out high school besides the high jump and 300m hurdles, including the long jump (Cardinal Conference Runner-Up, 1987), triple jump (set school record), 100m hurdles (district champ, 1989) 400m (her indoor record was broken in 2012), 800m relay, and 1600m relay, which paved the way to switching to the multi events in college.
After high jumping and running the 400m hurdles her freshman year at Cornell University, Culler switched to the multi events her sophomore year. The indoor pentathlon consists of the high jump, long jump, 100m hurdles, 800m run and shot put, while the outdoor heptathlon also includes the 200m dash, and the javelin. She broke the Cornell school record in both the heptathlon and pentathlon her first meet, and went on to win the Ivy League heptathlon twice and be the pentathlon Ivy League runner up in 1992 and Champion in 1993. She was also the Ivy League outdoor champion in the high jump in 1992 and indoor in 1993, and she broke the outdoor Cornell high jump record in 1993 with a jump of 5’7¼”. In 1992 she was named to the All-East squad, after placing fourth in the pentathlon at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Regional meet.
Susan married David Leonard of Skaneateles, NY in 1993 and they have three children, Ellie, Katie, and Tim. Dave is a professor of Chemistry and Susan is an Adjunct Professor in the Biomedical Sciences at Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids Michigan. They enjoy coming back to Ashland every fourth of July and competing in the Balloonfest 5K. It has been a privilege and blessing to compete and Susan would like to thank her Creator for His good gifts, her teammates, coaches, parents, and family.
Nominator: Melissa Culler