By Ashley Hocking
In August, senior Grace Morgan will be suiting up as a dual-sport collegiate level athlete at The University of Kansas (KU). She signed with KU to run year-round through cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
Her interest in running sparked at a young age when she became involved in her family’s favorite pastime: running.
“My family runs, so I remember in seventh grade I was like ‘Oh I’ll just go on a run cause that’s what my family does. So I’ll just try it,’” Morgan said. “Then I ended up really liking it.”
What started out as a hobby blossomed into a lifestyle. For the past six years, Morgan has run countless circles around tracks, rocky cross country terrains, and her competition.
She has attended regionals and state every year of her high school running career. This year, she won first place in the regional competition.
To compete at such a rigorous level, she had to alter her state of mind.
“[State] is definitely different from my other races just because it’s more intense,” Morgan said. “There’s more competition.”
Morgan’s hard work has paid off not only in trophies she has won, but also in achievements she has earned. In Sept. of 2012 Kansas MileSplit named her the Runner of the Week for her accomplishments in girls cross country. In addition to this, she was a member of the The Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Academic All-State Cross-Country Team.
Cross country and long distance track coach Brian Anderson applauded Morgan’s accomplishments.
“In League, she was in the top three,” Anderson said. “She’s run extremely well and she works hard. You can tell by how she does out here in practice. She’s worked as hard as anybody I’ve ever coached, probably harder than everybody I’ve ever coached. She’s got the mindset that she knows what she wants to get and how to get it.”
But for Morgan, running is more than just the trophies and recognition. Running is a confidence-booster.
“It just makes me feel good. It clears my head and makes me think more positively, which I really like.” Morgan said. “I have gained a lot of confidence because I know I can run 8 miles. I feel like a more positive person.”
Anderson admires the dedication and hard work Morgan puts into running.
“The nice thing about Grace is that she always gives you the very best she’s got,” Anderson said. “She does it without complaining and if anything, she does more than what’s required. I send them out and I say ‘Okay, you can do four to five miles.’ So she does six or seven.”
Long time friend and senior Zoe Fincher was inspired by the Morgan family to run cross country.
“She makes [cross country] really fun and she’s a good leader,” Fincher said. “People respect her and listen to her because she’s so good at what she does.”
As Morgan neared the end of her high school career, she decided she wanted to pursue running at the collegiate level.
“I really didn’t want to give up on running. It felt like I could still improve. I just wanted to see where I could go and I really like the sport,” Morgan said. “I was planning on running anyway in college, if anything on my own. So I was like ‘Why not run for the team?’ I’m so used to a hectic lifestyle that it’d be weird if I had so much free time.”
Although college sports can be difficult and time consuming, Morgan is ready to rise to the challenge.
“I’m ready for the next step because I’m ready for a more intense track experience. It’s exciting that I get to go to the next level,” Morgan said. “I just really want to get my times down and see how far I can go because I feel like I have a lot more in me. It’s just exciting to see what I can do.”
Anderson believes Morgan will succeed at any endeavor she pursues at the collegiate level and beyond.
“I think that Grace can do whatever she wants to. If she wants to be a doctor, she can be a really good doctor. Maybe she’ll decide she wants to be a professional runner or maybe she’ll decide that she wants to be a librarian?,” Anderson said. “Whatever she decides to be, she’ll be really good at. That’s just the way she is. She finds out what it takes and then she figures out a way to get it done.”