Makena Morley crossed another goal off her checklist Wednesday.
The state champion runner from Bigfork signed a National Letter of Intent to compete at the University of Montana next year.
Wednesday was the first day that high school athletes in several sports, including cross country, could officially commit to colleges across the country.
A brief signing ceremony took place inside the gym at Bigfork High School on Wednesday morning with classes from both the high school and nearby elementary school attending to cheer on Morley’s accomplishment.
Activities director David Creamer praised Morley for being both an outstanding athlete and person. He said he also agrees with the opinion that Morley may be the biggest running recruit the University of Montana has ever landed.
Since winning her fourth consecutive Class B state championship in record fashion, Morley has turned her attention to a list of elite national races, starting with this weekend’s event in Boise, Idaho. Morley will be competing at the Nike Cross Northwest race on Saturday. The 5K race will feature many of the top high school runners from Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii.
Morley placed second a year ago, running 17:36. She will be competing against the top-ranked prep runner in the nation, Allie Ostrander, a senior from Kenai, Alaska.
“I’m really excited to race,” she said. “I feel ready.”
After the Nike regionals race, Morley will travel to Walnut, California, to race in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships West Regional on Dec. 6. Last year she captured the 5K title in 18:06, winning by 20 seconds to claim her first Foot Locker regional victory after placing third both as a sophomore and freshman.
If she places in the top 10 at the regional meet, she would qualify for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals in San Diego the following week, chasing her ultimate goal of winning a national title. She placed eighth at nationals last year, clocking 17:43. As a freshman, she ran 17:40 and placed ninth. As a sophomore she ran 18:12 and placed 24th.