BIGFORK - Our (KPAX Sports) Athlete of the Week has earned her place as one of the top high school cross country runners in the entire country.
It was another big year for Bigfork High School cross-country runner Makena Morley.
"This year was really exciting. My first good meet was the Mountain West [Classic]. I set the record on that course at 16:43," she recalled.
But why set just one record on that course? About a month later, Morley went onto break the all-class state record with a time of 16:35. And from there, she earned her first win at Regionals - finishing eighth at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
"I wanted to win it, so I don't think I had a great race at the Nationals this year. But I was just happy to be in that top ten for All-American," Morley said.
"What I've liked is to watch where she was at her freshman year and see how she's matured. There were things we needed to correct and she did it. It's made 100% difference this year in her running, training, and everything," coach Susan Loeffler said.
This is the second time the Class-B star runner has earned All-American status.
"She's put Bigfork on the map. It's really neat because we've had good girl runners. Everybody asks us, 'What do you put in the water up here?' Makena has just been the icing on the cake," Loeffler observed.
The cross-country season may be finished, But Morley's prestigious list of awards this season may not be. She has been nominated for her third consecutive Gatorade Player of the Year Award for Montana girl's cross country.
It's one of the many achievements she hopes to accomplish in her career.
"One of her high goals is to train hard enough and be good enough to make it into the Olympic trials. With her motivation and her drive, I think she can do it,"Loeffler observed.
Morley plans on taking the rest of the week off from running, and then it's back to training for track and field season next Spring.
Morley took ninth at Nationals as a freshman, 24th as a sophomore, and now eighth as a junior. Despite her intensive year-round training program, she still makes sure to spend time with her family and to go snowboarding.