Morrison Ready to Defend Title Despite Low Scores This Spring

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Mike Morrison is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, name on the Cal track and field team. With that said, he hasn't posted a huge score in the indoor heptathlons so far.

"Normally, you shake the rust off the first meet," Morrison said. "That was a terrible meet for me. It was literally the first time I ran a high jump approach or had taken up a jump this year."

This weekend's MPSF Indoor Championships at the Dempsey Indoor Facility at the University of Washington is fast approaching and it can take multi-event athletes a little longer to get up to speed.

"Since then, I've been honing in on all the technical events, especially the high jump, hurdles, and trying to get the rhythm with the long jump" Morrison said.

Perhaps the most technical event of all, as well as the one that's been giving him the most trouble, is the pole vault. With seven events indoors and 10 events outdoors, sacrifices have to be made when faced with such time limits.

When faced with the decision to choose between practicing several events, however, it may make sense to leave the hardest for last.

"There's certainly a mental aspect to it, you're up in the air 16, 17, 18 feet and you're upside down, there's an element of fear with that," coach Tony Sandoval said. "Sometimes you can think things over too much and have difficulty getting off the ground."

Morrison and other pole vaulters also had to miss some valuable training time in the fall with Ed Miller, the pole vaulting coach, out because of an ankle surgery until the new year.

As last year's defending champion with a score of 5,655, there's certainly pressure on Morrison, but it's nothing he isn't used to.

"One thing I know about Mike is that when his back is against the wall he's responded very well," Sandoval said. "I expect him to do a good job in the pole vault and get a qualifying mark for NCAAs, I think he's made some big strides in practice (this week)."

Morrison has a simplistic approach to the event.

"I feel like that's all the heptathlon events are is just finding the rhythm, but I think I've got a good mentality," he said. "I'm getting pumped."

Cal will also return another MPSF Indoor Champion from last year in shot putter Patrick Kowalsky, who logged a throw of 59-0.75.

Morrison will defend his title starting with the competition's first piece of action today at 2:30 p.m. with fellow Bear heptathletes Kevin Kuechler and Idarre Coles.

The Bears had other champions last year, but two won't be able to repeat this weekend. The winner of the 3000m, Mark Matusak, graduated, while Deborah Maier, who also won the 3000m, is redshirting due to a foot injury.

The meet resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. and ends with the women's 4x400 relay at 3 p.m.

Tags: TONY SANDOVAL, CAL TRACK AND FIELD, MIKE MORRISON


Byron Atashian covers track. Contact him at [email protected]



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