Leah Esposito, a biology major with a 3.97 GPA, is no stranger to championship moments. During her career as a student athlete at Carroll College, Esposito was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s West Region Athlete of the Year for the 2015 indoor season. Esposito overcame a pulmonary embolism to come back and claim her third consecutive Frontier Conference cross country individual title. She was 11th at the NAIA Cross Country Championship in 2016 for her fourth consecutive All-America performance. Esposito was also a member of the second place distance medley relay team at the 2016 indoor championship. She was honored as the NAIA's 2015 A.O. Duer Award winner. The Duer Award is the highest academic honor for all NAIA sports.
And on July 17, 2017, Leah became the second person ever to repeat as the Overall CoSIDA Academic All-America of the year.
I am kind of shocked that I received the award a second time. There are a lot of people to thank honestly. It means a lot to me, not only does it validate all of the hard work that I have put in here, but it is a great recognition for the coaches and the more than fantastic professors here.
I've gained so much from my experience at Carroll, not just academics and athletics but I've grown so much as a person. It means a lot to give the college the recognition it deserves. The most important thing I have learned is perseverance. I haven't had it as hard as some of my teammates as far as extended injuries. I've had to persevere through tough times, tough things, wanting to quit. I've gone through it all and found a way to stay the course, and that is something I am going to be able to lean on for the rest of my life.
Esposito is a native of Helena, Montana. She is the 2016 NAIA indoor national champion in the mile, 2015 NAIA indoor national champion in the 1,000-meter run, and has earned All-America honors 19 times in her career, and capped off her final season with a second place finish in the steeplechase.
I think everyone wants to leave a mark somewhere. Graduating from Carroll has been very bittersweet, I am going to miss it tremendously, but I am excited that I got to leave a legacy here. I will always have someplace to come back to, and that is comforting and a really good feeling. It is great to see my hard work turn into something and to be recognized for it. At Carroll, I've experienced some of the greatest and most difficult times of my life. Those experiences are something I won't get a chance to go through ever again. I loved my time here and would do it again in an instant.