The University of Cincinnati track and field team is set to finish the indoor season by heading to Birmingham, Alabama, as it competes in the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championships Friday and Saturday.
In total there are 84 athletes on the team with 43 women and 41 men. Throughout the season, records have been broken and three athletes in particular have stood out: Hannah Markel, Ellie Leather and Arthur Greenlee IV.
Hannah Markel, a senior distance runner, is a leader not only for her team but for the whole athletic department. Markel, who is intrinsically a quiet person, has challenged herself to speak out and be the figure that her team needed, according to head coach Susan Seaton.
Markel became one of the team’s preferred long-distance runners by her junior year.
“She has been a force to be reckoned with,” Seaton said.
Markel ranks among the fastest in program history in four events, holding the fourth-fastest mile, third-fastest 3,000-meter time and in the top ten for 5,000 meter and 1,500 meter.
But what is overly impressive is her commitment to the betterment for those around her, and in particular the women of UC’s student-athlete body, Seaton said.
Markel, along with Dr. Jane Sojka, a professor-educator and marketing undergraduate program director in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, started a women’s initiative that focuses on building confidence and resiliency.
“Our aim is to inspire our female student-athletes by equipping them with the strategies and skills they need to become leaders within their teams, classrooms and in their workplaces,” Markel said.
One of the fellow student-athletes that Markel looks to guide is partnered distance runner Ellie Leather. Leather arrived at UC last summer as a transfer from Fresno State. Originally from Bristol, England, she quickly established herself at UC.
Leather, who most recently broke her own record for the fastest mile in program history at 4 minutes, 46 seconds, was also part of the distance medley relay that set a school record at the Charlie Thomas Invitational in College Station, Texas.
Leather has achieved feats in her first semester in the Queen City that many do not accomplish in all four years, but it wasn’t a surprise.
“We knew that if we could keep her healthy and provide her with a good supportive environment for her, that she could excel,” Seaton said. “…I think her forte is really the 1500 meter or the mile. So if she concentrates on that, I think she has a really good shot at representing Great Britain.”
So, perhaps there will be another Bearcat running in the red, white and blue, but this time donning the Union Jack.
But it hasn’t been just the women that have been exceeding expectations, as Arthur Greenlee IV, a senior hurdler from Toledo, Ohio, positions himself as one of the men carrying the baton forward for the male Bearcats.
Greenlee arrived at UC last year as a junior from Ashland University, and since his arrival, he has “been a spark plug for the men’s team,” Seaton said.
Greenlee arrived at a time when the team had just finished having athletes on the team from when they weren’t allowed to give out scholarships, like with men’s swimming and golf, but were still expected to compete at the division one level.
“Arthur came in with a perspective of that is no longer who we are, and really challenged himself and the team to think bigger and better,” Seaton said. “He is extremely dedicated, extremely disciplined … all of his lifestyle choices are all geared at being the best possible athlete he can be.”
Greenlee has helped the team fight the stigma that they weren’t just a club team; he has brought a mentality and a voice to the team that has been vital, according to Seaton. “His biggest talent is he has the ability to see that this is not just about him, … but he is also trying to influence his teammates around him.”
Both the men and women’s teams have been on a steady rise throughout the indoor season as they approach the conference championships. The team thinks very highly of themselves, according to Seaton.
“We like to not tell ourselves no, so we always aspire to finish in the top-3 of the conference,” Seaton said.
This will be the last chance for the Bearcats to bring home a trophy before starting the outdoor season March 19.