Freshman runner Morgan Greene has made strides in her first year as a competitive runner at Gonzaga.
When she started her journey on the women's cross-country team, Greene was more acclimated to shorter distance events, so the longer distances, 4,000- and 5,000-meter races, provided a new challenge.
However, she was able to get the attention of her coaches. Jake Stewart, the recently hired women’s track and field coach, saw the potential she had and was excited to get her running in the indoor track season.
“She had a great attitude running cross-country,” Stewart said. “She came out and she worked hard to get where she needed to be for track season.”
Greene showed improvement throughout the season, culminating in an eighth-place finish in the 800 meters at the Idaho D1 Invitational Team Challenge with a time of 2 minutes, 20.50 seconds.
But, her standout campaign had only begun, as the outdoor season was just around the corner.
Nearly finished with her first outdoor season at GU, Greene is earning strong finishes. At the Sam Adam’s Scoring Invite, Greene took 10th place in the 400 meters in 1:01.35. That was good enough to place her third all-time in program history.
She placed eighth in the 800-meter race at the Northwest Scoring Clash WAR. Her time of 2:20.95 was the eighth-best in program history as well.
Greene also participates in the 4x400-meter relay with Brianna Vasquez, Emma Flood and Jordan McPhee. The group clocked the four legs in a time of 4:13.26 at the Sam Adams Scoring Invite. This was the third-best time in program history.
Despite adding her name to GU record books, Greene has not had an easy road to this point in her career.
Her junior track season in high school was cut short due to a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects a person’s immune system.
“It was a pretty big setback," Greene said. “It was a life setback. An obstacle I didn’t imagine I would have to face or go through.
“I went through chemotherapy treatment, which took me out of my junior year track season about a week in."
She was unable to compete for the rest of the year as she underwent extensive treatment. Fortunately, the cancer was discovered early and treatment had gone well enough for Greene to be able to return to the track for her final high school year.
“My senior year season I had to build back into [running],” Greene said. “Coming out on the other end, it was definitely frustrating having to work back up the stamina to running competitively.”
Greene set personal records in several events, and even went as far as making the Washington State Meet in the 400 meters, 800 meters, 4x200-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay.
“It made me value that running experience that much more because I had to step away from being able to do it,” she said. “It helped me remember why I loved it so much.”
Stewart was impressed with the progress Greene had made coming in.
“She has overcome a lot,” Stewart said, “Coming in, you learn athletes and their background, she likes running a lot of events and she does so well, so we just need to find a place where she fits best.”
Besides sports, Greene has a love for teaching. One of the biggest draws for Greene to GU was the teaching program. Specifically, she wants to be an English teacher, as she enjoys classic literature like "The Kite Runner" and "Secret Life of Bees."
“I’m the oldest in my family, the oldest sister,” Greene said. “I used to make my cousins, when we were younger in the summer, play school. I would be the teacher and make them do stuff and they’d be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we don’t want to do this,’ but they would do it anyways.”
These experiences and memories made Greene enjoy the idea of teaching and was a catalyst in her choice to pursue it as a career.
Family is very important to Greene. She has two younger siblings, both in high school.
“I definitely miss them, I will FaceTime them and text them constantly,” Greene said.
Her diagnosis and recovery from Lymphoma really brought them together.
“It made my whole family closer, more appreciative,” Greene said. “Kinda helped us all grow in our faith and love for each other. You kinda realize just how much people mean to you when you go through something like that."
Her teammates are quick to point out her kindhearted personality.
“Morgan, for sure, is one of my best friends I've made since coming to college,” freshman Emma Flood said. “In everything she does, she is the greatest kind of person, the kind you want to surround yourself with, who makes you want to be a better person.
“She is so inspiring and works so hard in literally everything she does."