For Snohomish mom and daughter, It runs in the family

SNOHOMISH — Leiran Cornish never felt like she had to run track because her parents did. She just happened to be good at it.

Of course, the Snohomish High School senior and 400-meter specialist is probably a good runner because her parents were once pretty good runners themselves.

Dad Jeff Cornish was a sprinter at Hillsboro (Ore.) High School, where he graduated in 1976. Mom Monica (Johnson) Cornish was a 1979 Snohomish graduate and a four-year letter winner in cross country and track, and a two-time placer at state in the 800 meters. The two met while on the Pacific Lutheran University track team in the early 1980s.

“If you think about genetics,” Leiran Cornish said, “my mom did longer distance and middle distance, and my dad was a sprinter.” Put those gene pools together, she added with a smile, “and you come up with a 400 runner.”

And not just a so-so 400 runner. Leiran Cornish is the school record holder (56.7), a two-time defending Western Conference North champion, and a three-time state qualifier.

For more information on the 23rd annual Larry Eason Invitational, clickhere.

How likely is it that parents who were once top runners themselves will have children who also excel?

“I’d say that’s never a guarantee,” said Snohomish track coach Tuck Gionet, “but I’d also say it certainly doesn’t hurt.”

Because Leiran Cornish has the school mark, her name is on the record board in a hallway by the Snohomish gym. Also on the board is her mother, the former school record holder in the 800 meters. Records are listed by classes, and Monica (Johnson) Cornish still has the school’s sophomore (2:16.8) and senior (2:17.5) 800 records. Her school record lasted until just a few years ago when another Snohomish athlete, a junior, ran a 2:16.4.

“I was always hoping that she would break it,” Monica Cornish said, looking at her daughter. But since Leiran Cornish runs the 400, “the reality is that she was never going to do it.”

The record board was recently updated, “and it was cool to see our names up there,” she added. “I was kind of emotional about it. And my mom came in and took a picture of it.”

“I think it’s really cool,” agreed her daughter. “I’m one of the only athletes that can say, ‘My mom is on the board with me.’ I know of people who have siblings on the board with them, but I don’t know of anybody who has one of their parents on the board.”

Although the two have comparable accomplishments, Monica Cornish has no doubt who is the better runner.

“Truthfully, if we were running at the same time in our lives, (Leiran) would totally spank my butt,” she said. “The ability it takes to run that speed, it’s not something I had in me. So I know it’s a gift she has that’s very special.”

Thirty-three years after wrapping up her high school running career, Monica Cornish runs only occasionally these days. But she stays close to the sport because of her daughter’s involvement, and her own track background gives her a special perspective on her daughter’s successes.

“I’m very nervous when I watch her run,” Monica Cornish said. “It’s really hard for me in the stands, especially at meets like Wesco and district. I get really emotional, and I just have to take a chill pill and enjoy the moment.”

Because the season is young, Leiran Cornish is still building strength and stamina. Her best times will come near the end of the season, but this weekend she will have the chance to assess her progress against other top runners at the annual Eason Invitational track and field meet at Snohomish High School, which each year brings together many of the top track athletes in the state for a mid-season event.

Leiran Cornish, who will run track next year at Eastern Washington University, says she is not focused on particular finishes in her upcoming races. Her primary goal is merely to improve her best time.

“Anything can happen at any moment when you’re out on the track,” said Leiran Cornish, “so I don’t like to put that kind of pressure on myself. I just try to do the best I can on that day.

“My goal is to (run a personal best), and if it’s only a 56.6 (.1 second better than her school record) I don’t care. I still beat myself.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Marysville Pilchuck’s Dominik Kendrick (9) runs with the ball during a football game between Marysville Pilchuck and Stanwood at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Marysville Pilchuck takes the win, 36-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Marysville Pilchuck proud of 4-0 start, but has loftier goals

The Tomahawks aren’t listening to the outside noise, including a No. 1 WIAA RPI ranking, as a tough stretch lies ahead.

Stanwood players react to their coach bringing them the Stilly Cup on Sept. 30, 2022 in Arlington. The Spartans snapped a 12-game losing streak in the rivalry matchup last year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
4 games to watch in Week 5 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 5.

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Stanwood's Michael Mascotti relays the next play to his teammates during football practice on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Game picks for Week 5 of the prep football season

Find out which teams the experts and readers pick to win in Week 5.

Angel of the Winds Arena stands ready and waiting Friday afternoon for Kraken fans to arrive for the preseason game against the Edmondton Oilers. (Jake Goldstein-Street / The Herald)
Patterson: After past fails, can arena football thrive in Everett?

The turbulent past of arena football in the city stems from the opening of the Everett Events Center, now Angel of the Winds Arena, in 2003.

Hall of Fame inductee Gina Carbonatto accepts her award during the 2023 Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: 2023 Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame banquet

A look at Wednesday’s ceremony honoring some of the most decorated sports figures in the area.

Sultan’s Derek Feltner tries to stay upright after picking up an offensive fumble and getting a few yards against Granite Falls on Friday, Sep. 30, 2022, at Sultan High School in Sultan, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Week 5 prep football leaderboard

A look at the area’s top passers, rushers and receivers through four weeks of the season.

Everett's Max Soterakopoulos points to his name on the leaderboard after winning his division the Regional Qualifier for Drive, Chip and Putt, held last Saturday at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place. (Photo coutesy of Chris Soterakopoulos)
Community roundup: Everett youth golfer headed to The Masters

Plus, Mill Creek Country Club’s Val Patrick honored by LPGA, updates on local NFL players, and more.

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 27

Prep roundup for Wednesday, Sept. 27: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read