Morley Finishes Third at Foot Locker Nationals

Bigfork senior, Kalispell freshman Annie Hill earn All-American honors at national championship cross country race in San Diego

By Dillon Tabish
In the final cross country race of her high school career, Morley breaks the all-class cross country record on Oct. 25, 2014 in Helena. Her coach said she deservedly went out in a "blaze of glory." Beacon File Photo

Bigfork’s Makena Morley placed third and Kalispell’s Annie Hill finished eighth at Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego on Saturday morning.

Morley, who set the pace early and led after the first mile of the 5K, crossed the finish line in 17:29 at the national championship high school cross country race.

Anna Rohrer of Indiana won the championship in 17:13 and Ryen Frazier of North Carolina was second, 17:23. Click here for complete results.

Hill, a freshman from Glacier competing in her first national championship race, finished in 17:52. Bigfork’s Bryn Morley, also a freshman, finished 26th, 18:33, out of 40 elite runners.

This was Makena Morley’s fourth appearance at the national championship race. She placed eighth a year ago, 17:43. As a freshman, she ran 17:40 and placed ninth. As a sophomore she ran 18:12 and placed 24th.

A week after winning the Foot Locker Western Regional, Makena pushed the pace from the start, eager to chase a national championship. She finished her first mile in 5:19. At two miles, a small pack of girls, including Makena, was on pace for 16:40.

The University of Montana, where Makena will be competing next year, sent out a news release following the race praising her performance.

“Makena wanted to win, but her other goal was to lay it all out there until she had nothing left to give. She went for it and had a great race. We’re definitely proud,” said UM cross country and distance coach Collin Fehr, Morley’s primary recruiter and future coach.

He added, “It was good for Makena to be in that situation. Obviously she wants to win those types of races, so she needs to experience them and learn what it’s going to take to get there. She got a taste of that today.

“It’s a big compliment to her fortitude. It’s easy to say you want to win, but when it’s clear you’re not going to, it can be easy to kind of let it go and drop way back. But she didn’t. She stayed in it and kept giving it everything she had.”