MADISON, Wis. — Makena Morley capped her cross country senior season with a two-for-one.
The former Bigfork High School standout and Montana four-time high school cross country champion placed eighth at the NCAA cross country championships on Saturday, while helping her Colorado squad to the women’s team title.
Morley finished the 6-kilometer race in 20 minutes, 1 second, just 18 seconds off the pace set by teammate Dani Jones, who won the women’s individual title.
“I just stayed back a little bit,” Morley said in a University of Colorado release. “I fell at 1k and got stepped on. I was just watching Dani and I kicked at the end because I saw my teammate win it. I never kick and I kicked. I didn’t really know where I was.”
Jones and Morley paced six Colorado runners in the top 40, helping the No. 3 Buffaloes to 65 team points, besting No. 1 New Mexico (103 points) and Oregon (160).
Morley, who spent one cross country season at the University of Montana, winning her first meet with the Grizzlies, captured her first all-American honor with the eighth-place finish. She placed 43rd at nationals as a sophomore, then 50th last fall, while leading Colorado to third-place efforts in the team race each season.
“We just all love each other so much,” Morley said. “With the strength we have and the bond we have, we were going to go out there and do it for each other. I was dying, but I was like, ‘I’m not giving up now.'”
Former Kalispell Glacier multiple-time state cross country and track and field champion Annie Hill is a freshman at Colorado. She earned a 14th-place finish at the season-opening Wyoming Invite, running unattached.
In the men’s race, former Helena High distance star Aidan Reed, now competing at Southern Utah University, placed 51st. Reed ran a 30:09.8 in the 10k race, leading the Thunderbirds to a 21st-place finish in the team standings.
Montana State’s Ty Mogan, a Laurel High School graduate, placed 143rd.