Morgan runs into Ohio Track and CC HOF
BARNESVILLE – She is the unquestioned premier female distance runner in OVAC history.
Now Stephanie Morgan is being honored for her staggering prep achievements.
The former Barnesville High distance phenom is set to be inducted into the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame this Friday. The Hall of Fame banquet will be held at the Hilton at Easton in Columbus at 6:30 p.m.
“I am incredibly honored to be selected this year amongst so many great athletes and coaches that have brought so much to the history and tradition of Ohio cross country and track & field,” Morgan offered. “To have fellow athletes, coaches and fans remember some of your formative years is such a blessing, and also goes to show the passion and devotion people alone have for these sports history and representation of Ohio.”
Morgan spent her freshman year competing in Michigan after moving after eighth grade. She helped her Clarkston High cross country team to the state title while placing sixth individually. She proceeded to capture the 800 meters and 4×800 state crowns in track while finishing runnerup in the 1600.
Her family opted to move back to Barnesville after that season. Morgan proceeded to change the distance running landscape in the Ohio Valley, if not the entire Buckeye State.
The long-legged dandy authored cross country and track careers second to none. Morgan pocketed Ohio Division III cross country championships as a junior and senior.
Moreover, she won three consecutive 1600-meter state titles and two-straight 800-meter titles while winning state gold in the 3200 meters as a sophomore.
Her outstanding efforts earned her Ohio Gatorade Athlete of the Year honors in cross country in 2007 and 2008 and track and field in 2008 and 2009. The versatile performer owned personal bests of 55.6 at 400 meters, 2:07 at 800 meters, 4:39.8 at 1600 meters and 9:31 at 3200 meters.
“To be able to look back on my high school years, and know all the effort and hard work was really because of my love for the sport,” she added. “But also, striving to represent Ohio on a national level for middle distance running was a pleasure and honor during my high school years.”
Morgan’s running dominance attracted a host of D-I college programs. She selected one of the best in Baylor. After a successful frosh campaign with the Waco, Texas-based Bears, she opted to move back closer to home, transferring to the University of Illinois.
Morgan was a standout three-year performer for the Fighting Illini. She earned a host of Big Ten accolades while also qualifying for the national championships twice.
“When she was younger, Stephanie didn’t show the interest in running that her older sisters did. She went out for CC in seventh grade anyway, and easily won her first race, even though she took a wrong turn and ran an extra quarter mile,” said Barnesville cross country coach Mark Brown, who helped to hone Morgan’s immense skills. “She had both speed and endurance.”
Her senior year, she had the fastest high school mile time in the nation, according to USA Today.
“Both of her parents were All-American college runners, so she definitely had the genetics,” he added. “Stephanie was recruited by all the top college programs in the nation.”
In addition to her slew of prep state championships, Morgan won the mile in the prestigious Penn Relays while taking third in the 1500 meters in the Footlocker National Championships. She still holds the Ohio D-III 800- and 1600-meter records.
“After graduating from the University of Illinois, I went to graduate school for graphic design, and later moved out to Los Angeles,” Morgan stated. “I currently work at an advertising agency called 72andSunny as a graphic designer.”
WEST LIBERTY University will hold a “Team Meet and Greet” fundraiser to support its softball and baseball teams on Feb. 2 at The Highlands. The dinner and silent auction event will feature former Major League Baseball pitcher and current Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass.
“Proceeds from this event will go toward the funding of the new Belmont Savings Bank Indoor Practice Facility which opens soon,” said WLU athletic director Lynn Ullom.
The insulated indoor practice facility measures 120 x 120 feet in size and includes a turf field. It is located near Beta Hall and will be open to all athletic teams for training in all seasons, according to Ullom.
Blass was the winning pitcher for the Pirates in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series and was runner-up to teammate Roberto Clemente in the voting for World Series MVP. A member of the 1972 National League All-Star Team, Blass compiled a 103-76 record during his 10-year career with the Pirates.
The “Team Meet and Greet” dinner takes place at the Highlands Event Center and begins with a 6 p.m. happy hour, followed by a dinner. A cash lottery and silent auction also are planned. The price for dinner is $40.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact head baseball coach Eric Burkle at 304-336-8941 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or head softball coach Herb Minch at 304-336-8476 (email@example.com).
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