Alumna sets national track record

Alumna+sets+national+track+record

NIKOLAI BIRCH
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

On February 22, at a meet at Boston University, Alex Morris helped her team of Middlebury College to break the Division III national indoor record for the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) event by running the 400 meter leg. The team, comprised of three seniors and Morris, a freshman, beat the previous record from 2007, set by the University of Wisconsin at Plattville, by more than two seconds, running a 11:32.36 compared to the previous record of 11:34:46.

After six successful years running track at ASL, alumna Alex Morris (’12) took the next step by deciding to perform at the collegiate level. “I didn’t seriously think about running track in college until my junior year, when my college counselor, Patty Strohm, suggested it was something I might want to consider,” Morris said.

Originally a soccer player, Morris stumbled upon her skill as a track runner by choosing track as a spring sport in the seventh grade. “My favourite memory is when I was first introduced to Jonathan Ingram, the high school track coach at the time, as an eighth grader, after I had ran a 29.65 in the 200 and qualified for ISSTs. I just remember being so unbelievably excited that I had ran that time,” she said.

For a freshman on a varsity track and field team to have such success is not common, but Morris found her stride early, breathing fresh air into the team after it had lost many seniors. “She has exceeded my expectations of her as a first year and has run faster than any first year has ever run the 400 meters here at Middlebury,” said Martin Beatty, head coach of the Middlebury Track and Field team. Beatty, who has coached for 26 years, praised Morris and her work ethic. “Alex has been a joy to coach. She works hard at practice everyday and never has a complaint,” he said.

In the record-breaking heat, Morris significantly beat the time set by the previous year’s 400 meter leg runner, a senior. “Very rarely will a freshman break through at the events Alex has chosen to specialize in during their first year,” former ASL Track coach Michael Johnston said. “The 400m in particular is a grueling event that places huge demands on any athlete, especially on younger athletes with less hard training sessions in their system.”

Morris said that what gave her success was her work ethic, saying, “My parents never really pushed me to do sports but have supported me every step of the way, they knew that my life should be made up of my own choices, so it was something I always truly enjoyed doing. However, to be successful, especially in track, I knew that I really had to dedicate myself. It’s really easy to be willing to put in the hard work when you love something as much as I love racing.”

Morris also gives credit to her coaches for her successes. “[They] all really pushed me to be the best I could, and their hard work and dedication really prepared me for what was to come in college,” she said.

This year, Morris helped secure a spot for her team to compete for the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division III Championship, with the number one seed in the DMR event. They will be competing against a pool of teams including Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Amherst College, among others. In the top 10 seeds in the event, there were only two freshmen, one of whom, was Morris.

Morris and her coaches are optimistic about her future, both at the school and later. “I’m definitely planning on running the remaining three years at Middlebury, my freshman indoor season has been more than I could have ever dreamed for and I’m really excited for the future,” Morris said.

nikolai_birch@asl.org