Meet Katelyn Greenleaf

Aug. 29, 2014 caught up with each member of the track and cross country team to find out more about them. Today, we feature Katelyn Greenleaf, a junior from St. Petersburg, Fla. Greenleaf became the first UA women's athlete since 2008 to clinch All-SEC honors at the SEC Cross Country Championships last year by finishing ninth and running a 6k at 20:44.23. She is also holds the school record for the 3,000-meter steeplechase, which she set last spring.

How did you get into distance running?

"In elementary school, we had an annual elementary track meet. You could start running in third grade, and my PE coach at the time wanted us to try all of the events that we could possibly do before we chose one to compete in at the meet. The first one we tried was the mile and that was the longest one. I decided right then and there that I wanted to do the mile just because it was the first one we tried. I went home and told my parents. My Dad said, `No way!' because my Dad and my Granddad ran the mile in high school. They both actually went to state in that event, so my Dad thought it was funny I wanted to do it, too."

What made you come to The University of Alabama?

"At first I didn't know if I wanted to run in college. I didn't really decide that until the middle of my junior year. I came on my visit here and everything about it felt right. I loved the coaches and the team was really nice and welcoming. The whole campus was absolutely beautiful, so I just knew this was where I wanted to come."

What has surprised you the most about your running career?

"I didn't expect to improve as much as I did from high school to freshman year. That was definitely a surprise. The new team that came in with me was a big surprise, too. I didn't know there would be as many freshmen as there were. IT was good all coming and having that experience at once, figuring our team out from there."

How many times have people told you running distance is outrageous, and how do you respond?

"I've had that said to me a ton of times. Basically anyone who doesn't run will tell you that long distance running is weird. I just tell them I love to do it. I like how it relaxes me from outside of exercising. The race-day excitement and competing against other people is my favorite part of running."

If you weren't a distance competitor, what track and field event would you like to try?

"I would want to try pole vault. I did gymnastics when I was younger and then moved on to cheerleading. I feel like you have to be good at flipping and turning, and it just looks fun."

What is the best advice you can give young runners?

"Don't mix up your priorities. Running, especially for college, can be really overwhelming. If you don't have the right perspective and keep your priorities in order, it will mess with your running. The second piece of advice is to keep going after your goals even if you feel like you're not seeing results. Sometimes you may be on an up or a down, but eventually you'll get that bump that you're expecting."