Prize Recruit — Myla Greene

’23 high school list leader in the 100H Greene is drilling this fall at Tennessee under the expert eye of coach Duane Ross. (TENNESSEE ATHLETICS)

THE WOMEN’S HURDLES in the United States — whether it be the 100- or the 400-meter version — represent formidable challenges for up-and-coming barrier racers. Making any sort of podium at the SEC, the NCAA or the Olympic Trials will require a world-class effort.

Tennessee recruit Myla Greene, the fastest prep 100 hurdler in the nation last year, knows that. And she’s not scared. Of the prospect of lining up against some of the legends in the next few years she says, “Even though I look up to them, it’s still me against the clock. I don’t — I shouldn’t — be worried about who’s in the lane next to me. It’s just me running through the line and going against the clock.”

The 18-year-old produced a solid final season as a high schooler, going undefeated in her specialties until she got to nationals, then notching a runner-up finish in the New Balance 100 hurdles before really hitting her stride at the USATF Junior (U20) meet, where she PRed at 13.27 in the heats and improved to 13.10 for 2nd in the final, 0.08 behind ’23 Oregon frosh Aaliyah McCormick. That put Greene on the Pan-Am Junior team, and in Colombia, she captured the gold.

That, she says, was the race that meant the most to her: “Last year I didn’t make the team. I missed it in the 400 hurdles by one spot and then in the 100 hurdles I missed it by two spots. So being able to come out there and perform and see the atmosphere, what it might be like heading onto the big stage of the Olympics. It was a really good moment for me and seeing all my family there supporting me.”

An all-around athlete as a child, Greene tried almost every sport on her way up but eventually became primarily a competitive cheerleader “for a good amount of years.” Still, she got involved in AAU track along the way and eventually decided she needed to make a choice. “I had qualified for nationals and it was right down the street from where my cheerleading competition was, and I was really upset that I missed the final because I had the fastest time going in. After I saw I missed that, I was like, ‘I’m just done with cheerleading.’

“I wanted to focus on track because I felt as though I have more potential in track than I did in cheerleading.”

The hurdles, then, came naturally. “My AAU coach was the one that was like, ‘Yeah, I’m just gonna put you in the hurdles.’ He set up a hurdle and told me to run over it and that’s what I did. He was like, ‘That’s going to be your primary event from now on to high school.”

Eventually Greene donned a Bullis jersey. The Potomac, Maryland, private school has become one of the nation’s track & field powerhouses. “I honestly enjoyed my Bullis family, especially my coaches, coach [Joe] Lee and coach Derrick [Jackson]. They helped me get through so much the past four years. The way their program is set up, it’s to set you up for the next level. Each practice or each meet we had, they were the ones pushing me to do better and they saw the potential in me that I knew I had. They just had to bring that type of person out of me at every meet and I really appreciate them for doing that.”

Greene admits that deciding what her next step would be was hard, but she says, “I’m happy with the decision to come to Tennessee.”

Working with Vol head Duane Ross, she has no shortage of experienced guidance in the hurdles. “We’re building a connection and a relationship where I feel comfortable coming to him with certain things,” she explains. “Even at practice, he is really big on helping me to focus on my arms and my trail leg and each practice I see I’m getting better and he knows I’m getting better. He sends me stuff I need to work on, so by the time I get to practice, I know what I need to correct. That way I don’t have to keep overpracticing and getting frustrated. We’re working on the little things so that when the time comes for the big stage, I already know what I need to do.”

Ross knows he got a prize recruit in Greene: “She’s a very intelligent person and a very hard worker. I can see her making a big contribution as she matures into the event.”