Notre Dame runner Blake Morris inks pact with Mizzou XC

Notre Dame senior Blake Morris signs his University of Missouri scholarship offer flanked by his parents Shane and Jill Morris on Tuesday at Notre Dame High School.
Jeff Long ~

Blake Morris ran his first 5K race with his mother when he was 9 years old.

“Of course, he beat me,” said a beaming Jill Morris at Tuesday’s scholarship signing of her son, Blake, by the University of Missouri.

At an event attended by family and fellow students in Notre Dame’s gymnasium, Morris put his name to a document committing him to run cross country and track for the Tigers beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year.

In agreeing to run for Mizzou, the Bulldogs senior sprinter spurned a similar offer from the University of Kansas.

“Both schools offered great deals,” Morris said, “and it was not an easy decision.”

“(Blake) caught the running bug as a freshman,” Jill said. “He has met his goals and exceeded them.”

The younger Morris finished seventh in this fall’s MSHSAA Class 3 state championships.

Bill Davis, Morris’ first cross country coach at Notre Dame, agreed wholeheartedly when asked if the 17-year-old is the most heralded runner the school has ever produced.

“In terms of pure statistics,” Davis said, “most definitely.”

Morris wrapped up his prep cross country career Nov. 9 with what he considered a “disappointing” time of 16 minutes, 2.10 seconds.

A week earlier, he ran the 3.1-mile course faster on his home turf at Notre Dame, winning the Class 3 District 1 race in 15:47.01.

“I didn’t have a great race at state,” Morris said.”

At Missouri, Morris will run on the same course as the state finals — the Gans Creek Recreational Area track in Columbia.

“I didn’t want (Nov. 9) to be my last race there — and now it won’t be,” said Morris.

Morris said he’s already made connections with some of the other Missouri recruits.

“I wasn’t afraid to go away (to school),” said Morris, “but this way, I’ll get to see Notre Dame teams when they come up to (Columbia) to run.”

Davis, who coached Morris for two years, says his former pupil has an admirable work ethic.

His mother agrees.

“We never had to tell him it was time to practice,” Jill said. “We never had to push him. (Blake) is self-motivated.”

Morris, the third of five children, will major in business in college and has a new goal.

“The Olympics would be a big dream,” Blake said, “but there is lots of competition.”

For now, Morris has one more track season to run for the Bulldogs this spring before heading to college.

His mom couldn’t stop smiling and has the last word.

“We are proud of how (Blake) handled the defeat (at state),” Jill Morris said, “more proud than if he had actually won the (first-place) medal.”

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