Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Road to State: Morgan Lira

Morgan Lira is one of the most tenacious competitors you will ever meet.

If you have ever had the privilege to watch her run it is quite the spectacle. There is no missing the desire or competitiveness that this young athlete exuberates when she runs; she leaves every bit of herself on the race course. You can’t miss it. She is willing to take herself to a pain threshold that few are willing to go to.

It’s a gamble when you run with that kind of mentality. While it has paid off with some big performances there have also been some devastating losses.

At the WCAL Championship that tenacity was on display as Lira took out the race at a blistering pace, too fast for such a hot and humid day. She pushed through two miles but the damage was done, the heat was taking its toll and she was suffering from heat exhaustion. She never quit. As competitors closed in she didn’t surrender her lead holding of off her rival until the last 100 meters when her body couldn't go on. Her body had shut down and by some miracle she was able to stumble to the finish in second place.

It was a scary moment and questions about if she would be able to recover in time for the CCS Championship just 10 days later loomed. Feeling better a few days after the race she was right out there running again, there was no question in her mind that she would be ready.

Division III not only featured some of the top individuals in the CCS but also the top team in the section. Prepared for the fast start Lira had a new strategy compared with her normal front running style, hold back and chase.

Lira had an outstanding run, placing third in a photo finish. Her time of 17:57 was her first time under 18 minutes and only the second sub 18 minute run in school history. But when you ask her what her highlight of the year was there is no mention of individual accomplishments, it’s all about the other members of the team. “Watching the girls develop a hunger and desire to make it to state was a big highlight,” Morgan said reflecting on the season. “It was great to see the girls go into the race with a strategy of who they needed to beat, and how they wanted to race.”

While Lira has blossomed into one of the top runners in the State it is easy to forget that this fearless runner began her high school career running over 24 minutes in her first 3 mile race. Since that first race however something clicked, she fell in love with running and has never looked back. 

Morgan has made her mark as one of the best runners to ever run for the Warriors and will put it all on the line in her last cross country race as a Warrior at the State Championship November, 26th at Woodward Park. She is just the 4th runner in school history to compete in four state championships and if the past is any indicator on how the race is going to go, it is going to be one gutsy race.  One you certainly don't want to miss.

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