LUCASVILLE — Finding an inner drive within is critical for an individual’s ability to succeed when running a long distance event.
It’s certainly clear that both academically and athletically, Alex Morris is ready to make serious inroads.
A standout student in the classroom as evidenced by his 4.0 GPA and 32 ACT score, and a strong athlete as proven by his regional qualifications in both cross country and track, Morris now has the opportunity to continue building on a promising future in both arenas.
The senior harrier from Valley signed with Shawnee State earlier this year and will run in both cross country and track for the 2020-21 season on forward.
“It meant a ton to me,” Morris said. “I didn’t know the option to run at Shawnee State would be there, until (Eric Putnam) came up to me at the district meet. It means the world to me.”
Morris arrived on the scene in 2017 at Wheelersburg, where the sophomore began his journey into the main rotation of runners by posting a 19:04.9 at the Golden Rocket Invitational in Wellston on Aug. 26.
By the time the season ended, Morris had a top-10 finish under his watch (an eighth) — and had dropped his time by more than 40 seconds en route to setting a personal-best of 18:21 at the Piketon Invitational.
He later ran an 18:26 at the OHSAA Division II Southeast District meet in Rio Grande.
The following semester, Morris transferred to Valley, where he’d finish his high school career.
Morris became a dependable long-distance runner, while continuing to improve on the cross country circuit as well.
In the 3,200-meter run, Morris advanced all the way to the Division III, Region 11 finals during his final track campaign as a junior, finishing 11th and setting a new personal-best with an 11:01.64 at the meet in the process.
During his senior year last fall, Morris ran a personal-best time of 17:45.7 to finish 14th in OHSAA Division III Southeast District cross country competition at Rio Grande.
He nearly matched that personal-best against top-flight competition in the Division III, Region 11 Championships in Pickerington, posting a 17:48.8 to finish 51st and round out a strong finish to his high school career.
“I had amazing teammates,” Morris said of his time at Valley. “They were all so supportive. The coaching staff at Valley made a world of difference. I also want to thank my teammates and coaches at Wheelersburg. They all helped turn me into the runner that I am today.”
In addition to a strong foundation within his respective units at Valley and Wheelersburg, Morris credits the strength of the Southern Ohio Conference — as a whole — for his improvement as a runner.
With a conference that included fellow SSU signees Aidan Judd and Phillip Evory (Waverly) and Mason Blizzard (South Webster), as well as the talents of Northwest’s Landen Smith and Josh Shope among others, Morris certainly isn’t wrong about the SOC’s strength in both talent and numbers from top to bottom.
“The SOC is one of the toughest conferences, if not the toughest conference, around the area,” Morris said. “I took a lot of pride in competing inside the SOC. As for Valley, I loved my school more than anything. Putting on the Purple and Gold meant everything to me, and I took a lot of pride in it.”
However, with his success from an academic and athletic perspective, it’s clear that Morris — like his fellow peers — worked to get better.
His aforementioned successes in the classroom and from a running standpoint were dovetailed by a litany of activities, which included being involved in quiz bowl, science bowl, mock trial and the Ohio Model United Nations.
Additionally, Morris — who was a letterwinner in soccer — was also the leader of Valley’s Cheer Block and served as Valley’s National Honor Society Vice President.
Clearly a studious individual, Morris simply wants to use the next four years of his life as a way to connect with his fellow classmates and campus community — while improving as a runner all in one token.
He sees no reason why these goals can’t be attained with the pieces currently in place as they are.
“In the classroom, I want to carry on what I did from high school,” Morris said. “I want to carry that success to the collegiate level and soak up everything that I can. I consider myself quite the nerd and really enjoy school. As far as running, I love the longer distances. I wasn’t blessed with the foot speed that a lot of our guys have. However, God gave me the ability to hurt and grind races out. I want to be a threat in the long distances. I’ve always said that the longer a race is, the better it is. As a team, it’s all the same. My freshman class, especially, has been really clear about it. We want to win a championship. That’s first on everybody’s mind. We have four years to get it done and don’t want to settle for anything less.”
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