A couple of weeks ago, Cloquet senior Riley Leslie started down the runway on one of his long jump attempts during a meet at Duluth East.
He hit the mark, took off and landed in the sand pit about 18 feet away. Instead of going back to the end of the line for another try, he waited by the pit and watched as sophomore Nathan Genereau took his jump.
As the officials were measuring Genereau's leap, Leslie pulled his teammate aside and gave him a tip.
"Try to pull your legs up a little higher," Leslie told Genereau.
Since the April 26 meet, Genereau has solidified himself as the Lumberjacks' third-best jumper, just behind Leslie and Alex Leuzzo.
What's more, Leslie makes a habit of working with his teammates to help them improve, particularly with the jumpers, and coach Tim Prosen has noticed.
"He's like another coach on the field," Prosen said.
Leslie said he and Leuzzo started trying to help their teammates after Collin Trout tried to do something similar when the pair were just freshmen. Trout held the school record in the triple jump until Leuzzo broke it earlier this season and he took the pair under his wing.
"He started teaching us how to triple, how to long," Leslie said. "We were kind of awkward at it and we didn't know much. He saw something in us and kept at it and kept teaching us - to the point where we actually got really good at it. I learned being taught by Collin and I just want to be able to pass that on to other people and help grow the jumpers that we have."
Since those early lessons with Trout, Leuzzo and Leslie have blossomed into some of the best athletes at Cloquet. Leslie was the starting quarterback on the Lumberjack squad that was 8-2 and the Section 7AAAA runner-up in 2018 and a starter on the basketball team. Leuzzo was a starter on both squads as well and is the record holder in both the triple jump and long jump.
Leslie has even begun traveling to meets where the boys aren't even competing, like when the girls went to the Section 7AA True Team meet May 7, but the boys stayed behind.
"Riley was like, 'Hey, can I go with? I want to help our jumpers,'" Prosen said. "He and Alex asked me that. They are really close friends. They were like, 'We want to help our athletes out; we want to go in a different role here.' It's not to go down there to screw around - it was to help our athletes."
Their work with the girls is already paying dividends, with freshman Olivia Jameson setting the school record in the triple jump earlier this season with a leap 35 feet, 11.5 inches.
"When Olivia Jameson is breaking records, Riley and Leuzzo really see this satisfaction that comes from being a coach, while being an athlete at the same time," Prosen said. "They're excited, what Olivia is jumping, it's not much shorter than these boys - who are very good jumpers."
Leslie and Leuzzo's coaching has helped the team evolve from a running-centric team to a better all-around team, according to Prosen.
"We've always done really well on the track, but if we can do well in the field events, we can win the meets we want to win as a team," Prosen said. "Those guys have helped transition our team in general to a deep-field event team that of course has had a lot of success winning team meets."
For his part, Leslie has found enjoyment in working with his teammates.
"Now, I just take whoever Prosen sends my way and I just try to get them prepared for that meet and teach them and see how good they can be," Leslie said. "It's like starting a project in a way, because you get to know the people better. When they come over not knowing how to do it at all and we teach them and they have success - it is something really satisfying."
Leslie is graduating in a few weeks and plans to attend the College of St. Scholastica and then the University of Minnesota Duluth to study dentistry. Leslie doesn't have any plans to continue mentoring athletes, but Prosen said he sees a spark that will lead him back to high school athletics.
"I think he's going to find a way to coach in the future, too," Prosen said.