MISSOULA, Mont. - The high school cross country season is winding down at the national level with one major meet left to go, and as usual Bigfork High school's Makena Morley finds herself making national headlines.
This past weekend (Saturday, December 7th) in Walnut, Calfornia, Morley competed and took first place at the Footlocker Cross Country Western Regional race.
The top runners from 12 different western states all converged into the event with the goal being to place in the top 10 and clinch a spot for the national championships this coming weekend.
Morley did more than place in the top 10; the Bigfork standout excelled in the rainy and muddy conditions and coasted to victory in the regional race with a time of 18:05.7 which was nearly 20 seconds better than second place.
Morley was the only runner from Montana to run in the top girls seeded race. This is her first regional victory after taking 3rd place at the event the past two years.
Since the conclusion of her regional race in Walnut, CA (outside Los Angeles) Morley has remained in California for the week preparing for Saturday's national championship race in San Diego. Morley's top finish at the national meet (which the junior runner has now advanced to all three years of high school) was 9th place her freshman year in 2011.
The last time, and only a time, a Montana racer won the Footlocker girls national championship race was back in 2002 when Flathead's Zoe Nelson took top honors. This past fall Morley broke two of Nelson's meet records in Montana by setting the new all-class mark at the state cross country meet (16:35.31) as well as a new standard at the Mountain West Classic (16:43.42).