When Peter Morris imagined lining up for the national high school cross-country championships, he imagined it would be alongside his teammates. Instead, when Morris did toe the line at Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland, Oregon, it was as an individual.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, the boys and girls cross-country teams traveled down to Cary, North Carolina to compete in the regional qualifier for nationals. The girls team went hoping to cap their season off with a strong performance, though they weren’t expecting to advance. The boys’ team was less of a longshot, but they weren’t projected to make the national race either. Once the results were tallied, the boys’ team lost out on automatic qualification by 20 points. However, the team’s first place-finisher, junior Peter Morris, qualified seventh overall and qualified individually.
Nike flew him out to Portland the next Wednesday. As part of the experience, Morris traveled to Nike headquarters and got to sit in on question-and-answer sessions with some of running’s highest profile athletes, including four-time gold-medalist Mo Farah, a British runner whose “signature move”, the Mobot, is emblazoned on Nike apparel. Morris also received hundred of dollars worth of Nike gear.
Morris enjoyed meeting and interacting with dozens of other like-minded high school-runners, though he doesn’t feel compelled to adopt their techniques.
“It was nice, we got to see each other’s daily routines and how each other trains, just getting to know them, where they’re from,” Morris said. “[But] we pretty much do everything that I would want to do.”
The final race was run on Saturday, December 3 at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland. The race-day course-conditions were characteristically Oregonian: wet and spongy. Resultantly, most of the day’s times were slower-than-usual. Morris finished in 55th place with a time of 16:28.
Overall, Morris enjoyed his week in Oregon, but he wishes he could have experienced it with his teammates. The dichotomy between team runners and individual runners was heightened at the race.
“If you’re an individual you just kind of get a box with all the other individuals,” Morris said. “But with a team you get a box, and you get a uniform with your team name and you get a locker room at the meet for the whole team instead of just a locker in the middle with all the individuals.”