Freshman cross country runner turning heads

Turlan+Morlan+times+his+400m+pace+at+cross+country+practice.
Turlan Morlan times his 400m pace at cross country practice.

Turlan Morlan times his 400m pace at cross country practice.

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart

Turlan Morlan times his 400m pace at cross country practice.

Aaron Zewdie, Staff Reporter

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The CWU Cross Country team has had an impressive season so far. The already strong men’s team has added freshman Turlan Morlan, who has showed promise from the start of this season. In his first college race, he won the 7 Kilometer CWU Invite with a time of 22:37, 12 seconds faster than his closest competitor.

Morlan has a long history with the sport of running. Morlan’s first sport was running cross country, which he first started around the age of six. Morlan caught the running bug because his father was a cross country and track coach at Lewis & Clark High School in Spokane, Washington.

Morlan attended Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane. Morlan credits Gonzaga Prep as a school that has a strong history in developing athletes and bringing them to the college level. At Gonzaga Prep, Morlan ran cross country and track, while also playing ultimate frisbee and basketball. While in high school, Morlan broke the 3-mile record and became a Foot Locker National Finalist in 2017, where he ran 16:38.8 for five kilometers at the national course, landing himself a 37th place finish overall.

Morlan decided to attend CWU during his recruiting process because he felt welcomed by the coaches and the team. According to Morlan, he has been adapting to the new environment and enjoying his new teachers and college classes, while also making new friends that are helping him get more comfortable within the Ellensburg community.

Senior teammate Tyler Humphries is impressed by Morlan’s freshman leadership and the impact he has brought to the team. Humphries says the thing that stands out about Morlan is his positive attitude and his willingness to encourage his fellow teammates.

Humphries expressed how impressive it is for a freshman to break 26:30 on his first college run, and the team is looking forward to seeing Morlan break more records in the future. This also helps the team dynamic by encouraging some friendly competition.

“He is an incredible runner,” Humphries said. “He came into the season in great shape and he made all the other guys want to be faster.”

Academically, Morlan is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism. Morlan states that he has always looked up to sports broadcasters Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels while watching NBC Sunday Night Football. As a kid, he liked how fun the job looked, and enjoyed the in-game aspect of it.

The newest and biggest hurdle for Morlan to overcome is the difference in mileage between high school and college.

“I was probably [running] 70 miles a week in high school and now [in] college it is more,” Morlan said.

It’s taking Morlan some time to get adjusted to this higher level of training, but he says he is up to the challenge.

As a freshman, Morlan has been trying to improve himself since entering CWU. One of the changes for him is improving his diet. Morlan says he has always been a healthy guy, but this year with the added mileage, it has been helpful to eat more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. He also wants to improve how he finishes in races.

“A couple races ago, I kind of slipped up near the end,” Morlan said. “I need to improve how to work through the end.”

Head coach Kevin Adkisson gave big praise to the freshman runner. Adkisson says high-end runners coming out of high school like Morlan are what coaches are looking for at the collegiate level. Adkisson adds that Morlan was a very successful state high school runner, having made it all the way to the Foot Locker Finals.

“For high school, that’s really high end,” Adkisson said. “Only 40 boys in the whole nation make it to that meet. It’s a national level high school race.”

Adkisson says that they are excited to have somebody of Morlan’s quality join the Wildcats. He states that Morlan has already had an impact on the team, and is in the front of the pack during races. Adkisson thinks Morlan is exactly what the team has been missing.

“It’s what we’ve been looking for, we’ve had a great pack the last couple of years, but just nobody with that spark who can get off the front and be the front runner,” Adkisson said.

Adkisson mentions that Morlan will get better over time as he learns to develop his pacing in races while also getting used to the longer distances.

“That’s the toughest part,” Adkisson said. “He has only run one 8K so far and he had a little bit of a rough spot in it, but it’s a learning process.”

The GNAC Championship race takes place on Saturday, Nov. 3 followed by the regional race on Saturday, Nov. 17. Morlan is more than ready to meet the challenge head-on as a team and looks forward to the opportunity.

“We’re looking real good this year, it’s a really strong team,” Morlan said. “We’ve got a lot of great depth and I think we can make nationals.”

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Freshman cross country runner turning heads