Morrison Defends Heptathlon Title, Becomes NCAA Qualifier

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Senior Mike Morrison successfully defended his crown in the heptathlon at the MPSF Indoor Championships this past weekend.

He did it in style, too, posting a score of 5,694 to break the NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 5,675 at University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor Facility in Seattle. Morrison was the first Cal athlete to earn an automatic NCAA bid.

"I did what I expected to do and what I was hoping to do, I came in strong but I think I left a lot of points out there," said Morrison, who finished 280 points ahead of second-place Casey DiCesare of UCLA on Saturday. "It's like an unfinished project where everything's in place and you can see how it's going to look in the end but it's not done yet."

Morrison's performance was an enormous step up from his previous ones this year. Morrison didn't finish below third in any seven of the events and earned a shot at the NCAA title, the final goal of his unfinished project.

"He's the kind of guy that needs pressure to bring the best out of him, we've seen that through the years," coach Tony Sandoval said. "When he's in a corner, he steps up. He's in good position for NCAAs."

Morrison won the 60m dash with a time of 7.04, as well as the long jump with a mark of 23-7.50.

"I feel like I'm an emotional competitor and when there's something on the line it brings out the best in me," he said. "I need that fire and those emotions."

Morrison kept that fire despite the Seattle snow, which kept the facility chilly because of a heating malfunction. It did, however, affect many of the shorter distance runners, including the Bears' 60m hurdle champion Ray Stewart.

"With someone like Ray in the sprints, you need it hot and humid," Sandoval said. "Everyone was walking around with gloves and earmuffs and it was a detriment to every athlete competing."

Stewart came in at the finish line 7.91 seconds after the fire of the gun and 0.03 seconds before runner-up Eric Hersey of Oregon. The cold slowed Stewart from his personal record of 7.77 two weeks ago at the Husky Indoor Classic held at the same venue.

"Just to see this guy come in and do it day in and day out, he's definitely got the ability to go to NCAAs," Morrison said. "There's no doubt in my mind he can go to NCAAs and come away with an All-American finish."

Hammed Suleman was the third and final Cal athlete to capture first place for the Bears. He finished with a personal-best 52-10.75 in the triple jump, putting him ninth on Cal's all-time performer list. Only Lenards Ozolinsh, who set the school indoor record of 54-2.50 in 1995, has leapt further for the Bears over the past 16 years.

"Hammed and I are pretty close, we came in as the new guys so I always felt like he was a brother of mine," Morrison said. "I couldn't be happier to see him compete and do that, he deserves it just as much if not more than anyone else out there."

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


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



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