Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bigfork’s Morley inducted in MHSA Hall of Fame

| January 25, 2024 10:35 AM

The 16th class of inductees into the Montana High School Association’s athletic Hall of Fame is set and one thing is clear: This group of seven could really run.

The list includes Makena Morley, a 2015 Bigfork High School graduate who among other things helped Colorado to an NCAA cross country championship and continues to run professionally.

It also includes, in no particular order: Lindsey Hall out of Missoula and Big Sky High; former Deer Lodge standout and current Butte High football coach Arie Grey; and Colstrip product Tuff Harris.

In fact the lone “non-runner” on the list, Havre’s Marc Mariani — his spring sport with the Blue Ponies was tennis — made a name for himself outrunning pass coverages and opponents’ special teams with the Montana Grizzlies.

The MHSA’s release noted Morley’s love for running started with her mom, Jill Morley, who got the whole family — including younger siblings Logan and Bryn — into the sport.

Morley won 13 state titles in both track and field and cross country in four years at Bigfork; her nine individual titles in track stand out, along with All-America honors in the New Balance Indoor and Outdoor national two-mile races. 

But cross country was Morley’s favorite season: A four-time state champion, she held the Montana cross country course record. She qualified for the Footlocker National Championships all four years, and had three top-10 finishes, including a third-place finish in 2015. She also represented team USA in January of 2015 and won the Great Buppa Cross Country Championships in Scotland.

Morley started her collegiate running career at the University of Montana where she qualified for her first NCAA cross country championship in 2015. Morley then transferred to the University of Colorado where she competed from 2016-20. 

At Colorado Morley qualified for the NCAA track and field and cross country championships 13 times. In 2018 she helped lead the Buffs to win the NCAA cross country championships, and had her highest cross country finish, placing eighth. The Buffs placed third at the NCAA cross country meet both years prior to their win in 2018. 

She set school record in the 10,000 meters with a time of 32 minutes, 28 seconds was in the top 6 all-time list for the indoor track 3,000 meters, indoor 5,000 and outdoor 5,000.  Morley graduated in 2020 during the covid pandemic, with a double major in Anthropology and English/creating writing.

She signed a professional running contract with Asics in the summer of 2020 and continues to run professionally. She has qualified for two US Olympic trials; racing the 10,000 meters in 2021. She will race in the USA Olympic marathon trials in February of 2024. 

Morley won the US 25k road championship in the fall of 2021, placed second at the US 20k road championships that same fall and was second overall in the US road circuit championships that year.

She placed 10th in her debut at the Chicago marathon, placing in the top five Americans. Along with running professionally, Morley helps out with Montana State cross country and track teams and occasionally works at a local running store in Bozeman, where she resides with her partner and fellow runner, Zach Perrin, and their dog/running buddy, Nevie.

Morley and six other inductees are from the Modern Era category, while one, Conrad’s Richard Kronebusch, is a Legacy Era inductee.

All of the inductees will have a plaque placed at the MHSA Hall of Fame at Fortin Center, on the campus of Rocky Mountain College in Billings.