Morley Wins Fourth Gatorade Cross Country Award

Bigfork senior one of only eight female distance runners to ever win Gatorade award four times

There’s another prestigious banner to hang from the rafters at Bigfork High School.

For the fourth consecutive year, Makena Morley was named the Gatorade Montana Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

The award, which recognizes Morley as the best runner in Montana, was announced Thursday. The Bigfork senior became one of only eight female distance runners to claim the Gatorade cross country award four times since it was established in 2007.

Morley concluded her final cross country season in unforgettable fashion. During the prep season, she blazed her way to a fourth consecutive Class B individual state championship with a state-record time of 16:33.20, leading the Valkyries to third place as a team.

The 5-foot-4 senior finished third at the Foot Locker Nationals Cross Country Championships with a time of 17:29. Morley won the Foot Locker West Regional championships in 17:33.5.

Morley will race for Team USA on Jan. 10 in Scotland at an international cross country competition featuring the best high school and first-year college distance runners in the world.

Morley has maintained a 3.98 GPA in the classroom. A member of her school’s garden club, she has volunteered as a youth running instructor, as part of the Bigfork High annual summer fun run and as a member of the school’s Bigfork Buddies mentoring program for elementary school students.

“Makena is a winner on and off the running fields,” Andrew Gideon, head coach at Lincoln County High stated in a news release from Gatorade. “She is a gracious winner and worked hard for her success. She grew in the past year in her character with the development and success of her sister (and District champion), Bryn, who learned much from her older sister about running, work ethic and success.”

Morley has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on an athletic scholarship at the University of Montana in the fall.