Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sprinter Denesha Morris: Kansas ‘good choice’



Associated Press

Kansas’ Diamond Dixon, left, takes the baton from teammate Denesha Morris in the 4X400 relay race at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. KU placed sixth in the event Saturday in Eugene, Ore.

After looking at pictures online, Denesha Morris committed to Kansas University’s track team four years ago without ever setting foot on campus.

Growing up in Manchester, Jamaica, Morris received her scholarship offer from KU coach Stanley Redwine at a meet in her native country.

“I’ve had no regrets since,” Morris said. “I know I made a good choice.”

The senior team captain has certainly proved her worth since then.

Morris was one of three KU runners — along with Diamond Dixon and Paris Daniels — to compete in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays that scored points during last week’s NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore.

The 4x1 team took fifth with a time of 43.92 seconds, while the 4x4 was sixth in 3:32.74. Those seven team points helped the Jayhawks to their first-ever women’s team championship.

“I can’t even find words to explain it,” Morris said of the title. “I’m feeling really good to know I was a part of the winning team, going out with a bang.”

This certainly wasn’t the path she imagined.

Coming to KU, Morris’ specialty was shorter sprints. She came into the year with top-five KU indoor marks in both the 60 (7.47 seconds) and 200 (23.91 seconds).

When Morris began to struggle with hamstring injuries, though, Redwine decided to have her focus more on longer races so she could remain healthy.

Coming into the season with a goal to score individual points in both conference championships, Morris took seventh in the 400 at Big 12 Indoors and sixth in the same event at Big 12 Outdoors.

Then last week, the 5-foot-2 Morris ended her career with a season-best 400 split time during KU’s 4x400 relay.

“Historically, sprinters are taller than her, especially 400 runners. But her heart is bigger than any of them,” Redwine said. “She goes out and gives her best at whatever she does.”

Morris, who has a semester left before getting her degree from KU in psychology with a minor in behavioral science, said one of her best memories was singing the alma mater with teammates after they received the national championship trophy.

Morris finished the song — her final time singing it as a KU athlete — while holding back tears.

“It was very overwhelming,” Morris said. “I feel really good. Four years have finally paid off with something like this.”


jakejayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh yes Ms. Morris, we all had tears watching you and the rest of the team. Thanks for four strong years.

Gary McCullough 4 years, 11 months ago

Note to Williams Fund: Sign this woman up to go out to the Chapters for fund raising. Great story. End every fundraising with a tearful singing of the Alma Mater and fill up the donation plate.

crimsonorblue22 4 years, 11 months ago

We are thrilled you chose KU! It's too bad we didn't get to know more about the track teams til now! So proud of the teamwork! What a great group to represent us!

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