Markland journeys miles to Minnesota

The junior is from Jamaica and is one of the Gophers six captains this year.

Ryan Falk

Titania Markland wants to eventually make the Jamaican Olympic track and field team, and she’s moved more than 2,000 miles to keep working toward that goal.
 
 
“In the beginning, it was challenging for her,” head coach Matt Bingle said. “She handled it maturely. She’s a tough young lady, and she has the spirit [that] nothing is going to get her down.”
 
 
Markland, a junior from Annotto Bay, Jamaica, said she originally fell in love with track after competing in a meet in her sophomore year of high school.
 
 
“I went to a track meet, and I ran well, and I was like, ‘Oh, this feels good,’ ” Markland said. “It’s about challenging yourself. [In Jamaica] everyone runs, everyone’s fast, so you have to keep pushing yourself.”  
 
 
Markland has been running ever since that first meet, and soon Bingle started to recruit her to move north.
 
 
He said he’s been going to Jamaica since the late ’90s and pushed hard to add Markland to the Gophers’ roster.
 
 
“Went [to Annotto Bay] twice — where she’s from,” Bingle said. “I felt like she fit with our priorities and with our team.”
 
 
Markland graduated high school in 2011, and she went on to represent Jamaica at the 2012 Central American and Caribbean Games.
 
 
Once she came to Minnesota, the biggest adjustment for her wasn’t the climate — it was the local fare.
 
 
“Biggest thing was the different kinds of foods,” Markland said. “I couldn’t find stuff I liked to eat.”
 
 
The junior has settled in now and was named one of the team’s six captains this year for the first time.
 
 
“She means a lot to the women on this team,” Bingle said. “She has quietly taken care of people off and on the track.”
 
 
Markland has embraced her new role as a team captain, a role she didn’t expect to have.
 
 
“I was stunned,” Markland said. “The only difference [about being a captain] is making sure you’re doing everything the right way. Being a leader, you know others are looking up to you.”
 
 
Markland has found success on the team’s 4×400-meter relay team in her career, earning Second Team All-American honors at last season’s NCAA Championships with a 13th-place finish.
 
 
She anchored the relay last Saturday in the team’s meet against Wisconsin and passed her opponent to win the race. 
 
 
She also ran a time of 1:31.81 in the 600-meter dash at the dual to take first.
 
 
The two titles are just the first step for Markland this season, whose short-term goals include making nationals in the 400-meter and 4×400-meter relay.
 
 
“Right now there is no limit on her,” Bingle said. “She has the potential to do what she wants to do.”