Continuing a family tradition, Barnesville High School's Stephanie Morgan signed her letter of intent to continue her academic, cross country and track career at Division I Baylor University in Waco, Texas. At Baylor she expects to compete in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track.
Stephanie is the fourth daughter of William "Bill" and Susan Morgan to continue their academic and running careers at Division I schools. Sister Ruth, also a graduate of Barnesville High, studied and ran at Cornell University, Molly continued her education and running at Liberty University, while sister Jennifer is a junior and running at Michigan University.
After completing her five official visits around the country, Morgan narrowed her choices to Arizona State and Baylor and chose to become a Baylor Bear based on the atmosphere on campus and the attitudes of the coaches.
"Baylor fit me best," the Barnesville senior stated. "I wanted to find a place which was like home to me and I liked the sincerity of the coach and program. Baylor knows my specialties (the mile and 800) and I am real comfortable with the way my training will go.
"I am excited about taking my running to the next level," she added. "I have run a lot at the national level, but it will be harder at the college level. It will definitely be a learning experience my first year, but I just want to be able to help out the team and go from there."
Morgan takes a very impressive resume to Texas which began in the state of Michigan where she attended school at Clarkston High School her freshman year. During that first season of high school running, she finished sixth in the Michigan State cross country meet as Clarkston won the state championship. During track season, she won the 800-meter state championship and finished second in the 1600-meter event. She was a member of the winning 4x800 meter relay team and finished second in the National Distance Medley.
Returning to Barnesville for her sophomore season, she began the fall winning the OVCCL meet, finished first in the Division III District meet, was first in the Regional meet and qualified for the state meet where she finished fifth in a time of 18:55 to claim All-Ohio honors. She was also named All-Eastern District D-III Female Athlete of the Year.
During the spring track and field season, she won the OVAC 2-A 800-meter, 1600-meter and 3200-meter championships all in record setting times. Also that year she was the Division III District champion in the 1600-meter with a meet record time of 5:03.42 and also captured district championships in the 800-meter and 3200-meter events with meet record times.
She also won the Division III Ohio State championship in the 1600-meter, with a state record time of 4:45.21, and 3200-meter races. She was All-Eastern District Division III in the 800, 1600 and 3200 and was tabbed the Eastern District D-III Female Athlete of the Year.
Last year in her junior cross country season, Morgan she won the Belmont County meet, was first in the girls' small school at the Colt Carnival at Meadowbrook and claimed first place in the OVAC meet and was champion in the Footlocker Cross Country Regional meet and a national qualifier. She then was a repeat champion in both the D-III district and regional meets and claimed the Ohio State cross country championship with a time of 17:27.36 again earning All-Ohio and Eastern District D-III Female Athlete of the Year honors.
During track season last spring, Morgan won the OVAC 3-A 800-meter, 1600-meter and 3200-meter all in record times. She was also first in the Penn Relays High School mile run with the fastest high school time in the nation and third in the Junior National Track meet in the 1500-meter run. She also established new meet records as she won the D-III District in the 800-meter and 1600-meter and was Regional champion in both the 800 and 1600-meter events with a new regional record in the 1600 and a new state record time in the 800-meter race.
She then repeated as Ohio State champion in the 800-meter race with a new state meet record of 2:09.87 and also claimed the state championship in the 1600-meter event as well as being a member of the 4x400 relay team that finished fourth. Morgan was tabbed Gatorade Female Track Athlete of the Year in Ohio.
This past fall in cross country season, Morgan won the Lancaster Invitational and the Meadowbrook Colt Carnival, the Nike Regional Cross Country meet in a course record time and was also the repeat champion of the OVAC 3-A and was also OVAC overall winner. She won the D-III District championship by a margin of more than two minutes and went on to win the D-III Regional championship. She then won her second consecutive Division III state championship by a margin of 38 seconds in a time of 17:57.13 and again All-Ohio status as well as being named the Gatorade Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year-Ohio.
Only spring will determine what lies in store for the talented runner this year as she begins to prepare herself to move up the next level.
"I have a lot of goals and things I want to finish before I go," Morgan said. "I have always loved track and every year cross country has gotten better for me."
Barnesville cross country coach Mark Brown eluded to the impressive career Morgan has had through her high school days and points out that she is more of a speed runner than her sisters.
"She was recruited by almost every college program in the country," he stated. "She is a good leader and the other members of the team have looked up to her. I know she will put the work in at Baylor, it will just be a matter of her staying healthy."
Long-time Barnesville track coach Darrell Davis points out that although all the Morgan girls were great runners, because of her range, Stephanie has a little advantage.
"She is good in all the races from the 400-meter to the 3200-meter and I think she could be good at 200-meters as well," Davis pointed out. "She has great speed and has a lot of natural ability and desire. She is a student of the game and is constantly checking other runners around the country out.
"She has a dynamic personality and great leadership qualities," he added. "Some times she trains so hard you have to try and hold her back. Baylor will be almost like a home away from home for her."
Both mom and dad believe that Baylor is a perfect fit for their youngest daughter.
"All four of our girls are so different," dad (Bill) stated. "She really liked the coach at Baylor who is a good Christian man and I think it will be a good fit for her. It will provide her the opportunity for both her running and her education. We are going to miss her, but Baylor is a great University.
"I went 10 hours away from home to go to college," mom (Susan) pointed out. "Once you are there, it becomes your home away from home. Stephanie has had a lot of transitions in her life as we have moved eight times as she was growing up. Baylor is a tremendous fit for Stephanie because she is very laid back and the community there is very laid back. The coach is a very Godly and Christian man and she was raised in a Christian home so that is important to her.
"They have a great group of girls on the team," she added. "She got along well with all of them and academically it is a good fit for her. We let her make the visits and make her choice. She has to fit into the campus because mom and dad are not going away to college. We will miss her, but we will just have to go and visit."
Ron Miller/Special to The Enterprise
Stephanie Morgan signs her letter of intent to attend Baylor University at Barnesville High School on Wednesday. Front row (l to r): Stephanie's father Bill Morgan, Stephanie, Stephanie's mother Susan Morgan. Back row (l to r): Barnesville principal Jeff Crosier, Shamrocks cross country coach Mark Brown, Darryl Davis and Barnesville athletic director Mark Cook.