Morgan knows season can be unpredictable

August 11, 2003|JILL ERWIN

Patrick Morgan has definite goals for the upcoming cross country season, but he also knows just how unpredictable these things can be.

Morgan, a Boyle County junior and the Rebels' top runner, admitted that he expected far better than last year's sixth-place finish in the Class AA state meet. His time of 16 minutes, 55.74 seconds put him one second and one spot behind his brother, the now-graduated Daniel Morgan, after the duo entered the race expecting to take the top two spots.

Only one of the four runners that finished ahead of them graduated, and Patrick Morgan said the competition will only get stronger.

"All of sudden these people came up and went right past us," he said. "You never know what's going to happen in that race. I'd like to try to win state. I'm going to try, but there's a lot of competition out there, and they're always getting better somehow. I don't understand it."


Morgan said he thinks Boyle's five boys have a chance to win the region. The Rebels are hosting the meet, and Morgan said the other four runners - John Anderson, Mason Glass, Devin Lawson and Sam Morgan - are good enough to make that happen.

"We should have a good shot at it if we all stay healthy," Patrick Morgan said. "That's the key. We've got five guys and that's it. If we can stay healthy, we have a shot, but if we don't then we don't stand much of a chance."

Other runners will be aiming for him

Healthy or not, other runners are going to be aiming for Morgan. For years, that target has been on Daniel, but now Patrick moves up to the role of regional favorite, and the pressure increases.

Patrick Morgan said he handles pressure pretty well.

Boyle coach Doug Sharp agrees with Morgan's assessment of his ability to take on pressure situations. Sharp said Morgan's strength is in his mental toughness, and remembers one runner talking trash to Morgan on the anchor leg of the 3,200-meter relay during last track season.

Morgan ran with him down the backstretch, then pulled away to win by almost 100 meters and Sharp said Morgan never said a word back to the other runner.

"Mark, his father, summed it up best: Patrick takes anything on the track or on the cross country course and in that time frame, it's personal," Sharp said. "If you've passed him, you've smacked him in the face. Once it's over, he'll shake your hand and everything's cool.

"Patrick would never do anything cocky or boastful, but yet he knows he's good and he knows he can get the job done."

Spent the summer working on his endurance

Morgan has been getting the job done in two fall sports, also playing soccer for the Rebels. Morgan said his speed work has improved because of soccer, but he has spent the summer working on his endurance. He admits he doesn't keep track of his mileage as well as others, so he doesn't know how much he's been running. He did say he can tell a difference.

"I could probably be running more, but oh well, you do what you can do," Morgan said. "I'm working on mileage, trying to keep it up. We'll find out come November if I still have it."

While soccer helps him in his speed work, the dual sports can also wear him down. Instead of one practice a day, he has two. Instead of one chance to get hurt, he has two.

Morgan said he has a good relationship with both Sharp and soccer coach Greg Conley, and can tell both of them when he's not feeling 100 percent.

"You can easily wear yourself out," Morgan said. "I wouldn't suggest it to anyone.

"I think I've grown a lot since last year, and hopefully I'll be the one giving the (soccer) injuries instead of getting them. It's not too big of a problem, not something worth stressing yourself out over. You just have to listen to your body."

"Patrick isn't going to lie to you about how he's feeling, but he's not going to tell you everything that's going on either," Sharp said. "I know Patrick and how he loves to compete. He's just got that attitude where yeah, it may hurt, but he's going to get through that 16 1/2 or 17 minutes and bear the pain until afterwards. That's just the kind of kid he is."

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