Morgan chasing state title

November 05, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

Patrick Morgan won't be expected to win a state championship Saturday, but it wouldn't be much of a surprise if he did.

Even though Morgan spent most of his time this fall playing and practicing soccer, he can't be discounted as a threat to take first place in the Class AA boys race at the State Cross Country Championships in Lexington.

The Boyle County junior improved from 30th in 2001 to sixth last year, and he is currently fourth in the statewide coaches' association rankings.

"I would be surprised, but not shocked (if he won)," Boyle coach Doug Sharp said.

Morgan knows what he's up against. Four of last year's top 10 finishers are back, including defending champion Jacob Fortney of Muhlenberg North and runner-up Keith Knapp of Lloyd Memorial.


"I know about everyone out there," he said. "There's a lot of competition this year. It's unbelievable. There could be five or six guys in the top pack."

Morgan is the only junior ranked among the top five in the state. The others - Fortney, Knapp, Nathaniel Blank of Bell County and Travis Keown of Warren East - are all seniors.

Morgan said it's impossible to anticipate everything that might happen in the lead pack at the state meet.

"You just never know about that race. It's so unpredictable," Morgan said.

Boyle has finished in top 10 last two years

Morgan would love to emerge from the pack to win the individual title, but he's also hoping for a strong showing for a Boyle team that has been in the top 10 in back-to-back years and is just coming into its own this season.

"We should be strong at state," Morgan said.

Boyle was strong enough last year to earn a best-ever seventh-place finish, thanks largely to the success of Morgan and older brother Daniel, who was fifth.

Without Daniel Morgan, who won a state championship in 2001 and now runs for George Washington University, Patrick Morgan has had little competition in most of his races.

"Someone's not always in front of me every single meet," he said.

Patrick Morgan has found someone to push him in Devin Lawson, the future Navy SEAL who joined the cross country team for his senior season.

"I think it's a lot better for him," Sharp said. "With Devin on his heels, it helps everybody. It makes us all a lot better."

It gives Boyle back some of the points that left when Daniel Morgan graduated.

"That's a lot of points we're missing, but Devin has made up a lot of points," Morgan said.

Morgan's regional title was his second in less than two weeks. He was part of Boyle's regional champion soccer team, and he devoted most of his practice time to that sport until the season ended one week before the cross country regional.

"That last week of soccer season, I was totally focused on soccer," he said. "After that, you have to change gears really fast or else you get lost."

But Morgan's training hasn't suffered. If anything, Sharp said he is working harder than ever as he begins to focus on running after high school.

"I think he's stepped his training up because he saw the college schedule Daniel had this summer," Sharp said. "He'll be the first to tell you he's got his eyes on running cross country and track in college, and until you know what the big boys are doing, you think you're doing enough."

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