One year’s worth of progress can be astounding. For Jason Morris, a year of training has made a world of difference.
As a freshman, Morris was a prospective powerhouse thrower for Missouri track and field. Now in his sophomore season, Morris has proved to be an asset to the Tigers.
Breaking record after record has only served to make Morris more demanding. Refusing to settle, Morris continues to set his sights beyond the throwing ring, over the rim of his comfort zone, and into the far reaches of the horizon — 230 feet — to be exact.
Two weeks ago, at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, Morris had the hammer throw performance of his career. On a warmup throw, the hammer actually sparked in the sky. Power lines tend to illuminate when blasted by a 35-pound ball on a chain, one that, in his excitement, Morris let fly just a little too early. However, the intensity behind the accident sent a message to his competitors, an omen of what was to come. Morris went on to finish second in the event with a personal best of 218 feet, 1 inch.
“Once I saw that I was throwing well, I was really excited,” Morris said. “I just tried pushing harder to catch that one person in front of me.”
Throwing well may have been an understatement. The toss was 6 feet beyond his previous best and marked the third time this year that Morris broke the school’s hammer throw record. It was also enough for Morris to surpass USA Track and Field’s ‘A’ standard qualification of 66.60 meters, automatically entering him into the national championships, which are scheduled for late June, in Indianapolis, Ind.
On his first day back to the practice ring, Morris was greeted with accolades from teammates and coaches alike. Though he flashed a grin, a glimmer of quiet pride, he immediately announced his goals for the future.
“Coach, I want to break 230,” Morris said.
Morris will have a chance to break that barrier this weekend at the Big 12 Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Baylor’s Hart-Patterson Track & Field Complex on May 12-14 in Waco, Texas.
Last year, Morris earned 11th at the Big 12 championships with a 182-3 toss and had a personal best of 185-5. Though both are impressive, the marks were nowhere close to what he has accomplished this year. Because of his recent achievements, Morris enters this year’s Big 12 competition ranked second in the conference, behind the one competitor that eluded him at the Drake Relays. Egor Agafonov, a sophomore at Kansas, enters in the top slot after throwing the hammer 232-11.75.
Unitimidated, Morris said he is looking forward to competing against the likes of Agafonov, and considers the top 10 hammer throwers in the nation to be his competition.
“I look up to them and think, I could be with those guys,” Morris said. “Competing at such high level, that kind of helps drive me every day.”
Morris can put his quest for personal improvement to use at every Missouri practice. Along with Morris, three other Tigers go in to the Big 12 championships with top 10 conference performances. Chris Rohr is ranked third in the conference with a season best of 209-2 1/4, while Tyler Daily is ranked fourth with a 206-4 1/2 throw. Bobby Musil ranks seventh at 195-2 1/4.