BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Running isn’t just hard… it is exhausting. It is just as much mental as it is physical. The best athletes are those that train their bodies to push past their breaking points, going further than they thought they could. For many, running is hard work, and for some, running gives satisfaction and joy. Famous Olympian Eric Liddell, describes this feeling, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Another runner, Morgan Fagan from Acorn, enjoys the satisfaction of a good run.
Morgan has graduated from Acorn as not only one of the most decorated track and cross country athletes, but also one of the most awarded athletes in school history … period. Despite the accolades, cross country running was not her first love, “When I grew up, I really didn’t know anything about sports. I didn’t like sports and certainly didn’t like running. I liked playing outside and playing with Barbies,” says Morgan smiling. In sixth grade, Morgan was riding the bus when the bus driver, Acorn Cross Country and Track Coach Keith Wilsey, approached her about running. At the time, her sister Krysten, was running for Coach Wilsey on the junior high track team. “I looked up to Krysten and thought that if she was running, I could, too. I was also small and so I thought I might be good at it.”
Not only did Morgan compete in junior high cross country, she dominated the meets. “I was often so far ahead that I would just finish the race walking,” recalls Morgan. During her 8th and 9th grade seasons she only lost one race, while going one of those seasons undefeated. While running in junior high competitions, she was training with her sister and other high school runners. “My sister and I were both competitive and it actually frustrated her that I could keep up so when I trained I just stayed like ten feet behind them,” explains Morgan laughing. Along with running with her sister, Morgan would run each day at school under the direction of Coach Wilsey. She attributes a lot of her success to his knowledge of the sport and running in general, “If it wasn’t for Coach Wilsey, I wouldn’t have been as successful as I have been. He really pushed me. There were times that I didn’t want to run or practice, but Coach was always making me run anyways.”
For someone who has won so many races and has competed at such a high level, Morgan isn’t your typical ‘go beat the world’ competitor. In fact, her biggest competition isn’t the other runners. Her biggest competition is herself. “People don’t know this, but I actually hate races. I would much rather run by myself and compete against myself. I want to always set a new personal record. I don’t like races because I don’t like losing. When you race, you take a chance at losing,” says Morgan with a smile. Don’t let the smile fool you though, Morgan wants to win, and often she does. Cross country runners experience things that most other athletes or even track athletes don’t experience. Running through the woods or a field as runners often do can be dangerous… or at the very least, comical, “I have tripped over a dog on the course while running and one time when I was running a 5k that wasn’t for school competition, I was running along when looking to my left I saw a deer just in time before it hit me.”
Morgan’s running career will continue as she heads to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith to run on the cross country team there. It is an honor to receive a scholarship to run and work towards a degree, but that may not be what Morgan is most excited about. “My sister Krysten is a runner on the team there and she is a captain. This upcoming year will be her last year to run in college and I will get the opportunity to run with her again. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” Morgan understands that running in college is a lot more serious than running in college and she will have to work and compete harder than she ever has, “The athletes are going to be good. We will run against people from the UofA, it will be extremely tough. My goal is to constantly set a personal record and always be in the Top 20. I think when I leave I might be able to get my 3-mile down to 18 minutes.” While running at UAFS, Morgan will work towards her Dental Hygiene degree with the hopes to go to medical school afterwards.