Leneau: Member of a dying breed Profile: Three-sport competitor Jason Leneau, of Boys' Latin, is a throwback to when star athletes provided leadership in more than one area.

January 16, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Boys' Latin's Jason Leneau represents a lot of things to a lot of people.

He's the Lakers' top athlete -- a No. 2 nationally-ranked wrestler and football player -- as well as a lacrosse player who has accepted a scholarship to play at Virginia. The Eldersburg resident, who has a 3.4 grade-point average, serves as parliamentarian in the school's Student Government Association, is a member of the debate club, and even a baritone in the school chorus.

Leneau's wrestling style, a blend of bruising technique and flexibility, has prompted coaches such as Damascus' Dave Hopkins to call him "a bull." Others say he is simply "smooth."

"Incredibly strong and quick with a great mat savvy. He's incredibly flexible, which allows him to get out of precarious situations," said Lakers wrestling coach Jim Currie. "He's a peer educator at the school, which means he plays a role of being a teacher to some of the younger kids. He participates in all aspects of school life."

But to his parents, Bernie, a teacher at Southwestern High, and Teresa, 17-year-old Jason is simply "a good kid."

"He was our football scholar-athlete. He's personable, polite, hasn't missed a day of school here since first grade. You can't ask for a finer young man to represent your institution," said Boys' Latin athletic director Hugh Gelston. "As a student, as a three-sport athlete -- which is a dying breed these days -- he's definitely one of the more well-rounded young men I've seen."

In lacrosse, Leneau (5-feet-11, 171 pounds) was a defenseman on a team that finished 17-0, ranked No. 1 in the area. In football last fall, he rushed for more than 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns as a quarterback-runner and averaged nearly two sacks as a linebacker.

"Because of his versatility, he played quarterback, receiver, running back, linebacker, defensive end, cornerback, safety," said football coach Drew Haugh, also the assistant wrestling coach. "He's a leader by example, in the sense that people see his commitment. He realized his value and handled it well. I have memories of him as a first-grader. Jason has a permanent place in my heart.'

In wrestling, the two-time All-Metro pick has an all-time school career record of 109-17, two league titles, one state title and a National Preps Tournament runner-up finish to his credit.

Leneau credits his parents for showing him "sports aren't everything." His actions now, Leneau said, are only an effort "to ,, FTC give back to them by not causing too many problems."

"My goal all along has been to go to a good school as a way of showing them that what they've taught me has paid off," said Leneau, who is ranked second nationally in his weight class.

Teresa, 45, is a major source of strength for her son. He was 13 when she nearly died of a double brain aneurysm. Surgery performed on Christmas Eve 1994 left her in a coma for 10 days.

"They wouldn't let him see me for a while, but when he did he said I looked like a shell of myself," said Teresa Leneau, a manager with the Baltimore post office. "He wrote a paper about his experience, how he gained strength from it."

Jason said his mother's illness "taught me the value of each and every day." It helped him to endure a rib injury while going 28-11 and placing third in the league meet as a freshman, and through another injury-riddled sophomore year for a 28-1 record.

On the mat, Leneau is 25-0 and having his best season since 10th grade, but his wrestling career likely will end after this season. He signed early in November, accepting a lacrosse scholarship to the University of Virginia despite "not really turning any heads in lacrosse" until after attending summer camps at the urging of lacrosse coach Bob Shriver.

"I told Jason and Bernie three or four years ago that he had a good opportunity in lacrosse; he just had to commit to it more than just the 2 1/2 months in a season at Boys' Latin," said Shriver.

Leneau, who still is hearing from schools such as the University of Pennsylvania for wrestling, and some smaller schools for football, said. "I never thought about giving up wrestling, even though I've got some turf toe or some type of foot injury from football.

"As a senior, I felt quitting would be too easy. There are some things I can do as a leader, per se, as the only senior on the team."

This season Leneau has twice been voted Outstanding Wrestler at tournaments. He has beaten DeMatha's Wes Cummings, Overlea's Terry Lawson, Patterson's Leonard Bridgeforth and Oakland Mills' Quinton Milroe -- ranked Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 6, respectively, in Maryland.

Milroe was 11-0 with 10 pins entering their bout, but was flattened in only 53 seconds. And ESPN's cameras were rolling when Leneau handled Bridgeforth, 10-2. Their bout should be featured on Scholastic Sports America in a few weeks.

"I consider him an All-American," Teresa Leneau said. "He's taken advantage of every opportunity available and excelled in everything. Needless to say, I'm very proud of him."

Pub Date: 1/16/98

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