For many college athletes, their freshman year involves either red shirting or not seeing the field. But for University of Indianapolis track and field freshman multi-athlete Ellie Lengerich, freshman year has involved her breaking a 14-year-old indoor high jump record, breaking a pentathlon record and being part of a school record-breaking distance medley relay team. Lengerich broke the high jump record in her first collegiate meet, jumping 1.75 meters in the 2021-2022 UIndy Season Opener Meet, according to UIndy Athletics.
Currently, Lengerich is listed as the fourth-ranked high jumper in Division II in the country and was named the GLVC Indoor Field Athlete of the Week after breaking that record during the week of Dec. 8, according to UIndy Athletics. Lengerich said being ranked that high is “awesome,” but she tries not to get a big head over it and focuses on trying to beat her personal records when she can.
“I was really worried about coming into college and competing,” Lengerich said. “Just getting into my own head and overthinking things, and doing that coming off of our first meet, it was a huge confidence booster and made me feel like I actually belong to be competing in college.”
Lengerich said clearing 1.75 meters was a personal record as well. She said high school meets measure jumps in feet and inches, so she had no idea what she was jumping when she transitioned to college.
“I actually told my coaches to not tell me what the height was so I can just jump,” Lengerich said, “Because a lot of the time when I know I’m getting that high, I get too much in my head. So I just try not to think about it and just jump.”
Trace Oswalt, track and field multis coach and a former UIndy jumper himself, graduated in 2018 and had a part in recruiting Lengerich to become a Greyhound. Oswalt said a former UIndy teammate of his was an assistant coach at Lengerich’s high school, East Central, and told Oswalt about her.
“I reached out to her, and she and I maintained communication throughout her senior season,” Oswalt said. “Then we brought our Head Coach [Scott] Fangman into talks once she was more seriously considering visiting campus and talking about track and scholarships.”
Lengerich said that the connection she had with the coaching staff and the university’s excellent physical therapy program were the reasons she chose UIndy. She said a large part of her decision to come to UIndy was about what she wanted to study.
“If I have a project, or something to do with people, they will work around it with my practice schedule,” Lengerich said. “It’s [UIndy is] a little bit more lenient compared to other schools I had looked at. So they definitely put academics over athletics, and that was a big point for me to come here.”
Oswalt said Lengerich is a naturally gifted athlete and no matter what event she competes in, she makes it look easy. He said even though this is Lengerich’s first year at UIndy, she is someone who is very fun to be around and easy going.
“She’s a great person to be around; she makes practices really fun,” Oswalt said. “She’s really focused during meets and is a good leader already for the group, even though she’s so young. We have a young group anyways. It’s going to be a bright future for the entire jumps group and the team overall.”
Lengerich said she wants to thank the coaches for being supportive and working around her schedule, as well as her
roommate, who also has been a big part of getting her through all the school work and keeping her focused. Lengerich said her biggest motivation while competing is her family, most specifically her dad, for pushing her to be the best she can.
“I definitely want to shout out my family, because they are my big supporters,” Lengerich said. “It makes me feel good to hear them say they’re proud of me when I’m competing in college. That was one of the driving factors to make me continue to compete as I got older.”
Oswalt said there are a lot of different things that go into the events Lengerich does. With her ability to learn on the fly, quite literally, Oswalt said, Lengerich is taking on a ton of new things well.
According to UIndy Athletics, Lengerich is developing a worthy resume for GLVC Freshman of the Year by setting a new UIndy record with a score of 3297 in the women’s pentathlon. That mark eclipsed one of the oldest records in the book – 2938 set by Porsche Jackson in 2009, according to UIndy Athletics.
“She handled the early success well. That shows she’s going to be used to having it throughout her career,” Oswalt said. “Like I said, with all the new things that have been thrown at her, it would be very easy to get discouraged. And [for] a lot of freshmen that come in, myself included, there’s kind of a transition year where you’re getting used to doing track full-time for the first time ever, So there’s kind of a dip in performance and that can be frustrating, but very few athletes, Ellie [Lengerich] included, don’t really have that dip in performance, so that shows it can only go up from there. ”
Lengerich is currently on track for the GLVC Indoor Championships, which take place on Feb. 26-27 in the ARC, according to UIndy Athletics. Oswalt said there is a plan made up to where Lengerich will find success and peak for the conference meet as well as being well rested for the later NCAA DII Indoor Championships meet in early March.
“I’m expecting her to handle it [prep for conference] well, but obviously this is even though she’s done very well all
year it’s still a very new experience, but I expect her to handle it well,” Oswalt said. “I’m expecting her to score a lot of points, and then we’re going to shut it down a little bit for a couple of weeks leading up to the National Championships meet [so] that way we can help her body be fresh and recover as much as possible … So I’m excited for her, and all of this is just [a] great experience to get early on, and like I said before it’s going to lead to more success for her the rest of her career.”
Despite her successful freshman year, Lengerich said she’s aiming higher and wants to continue her success into the NCAA National Championship Meet, while maintaining a high GPA in the classroom.
“Four years from now, I’m hoping to be accepted into the PT program here and then maybe a few National Champions and a few All-Americans,” Lengerich said. “That was the original goal coming into here.”