Willie Morrison is someone you could trust as far as he throws it.
The junior member of the Indiana Hoosiers’ track and field team is a top-notch thrower for the team and has carried on his top performances since leaving Leavenworth High School in 2015.
But it hasn’t been a bed of roses since day one.
“During my first few college meets, I suffered a lower back injury in late November which prevented me from training at full potential as we got closer to our first meet,” Morrison said. “After going to a few sessions of dry needling, I finally went to a chiropractor and he set my back straight. I opened my freshman season up with a 17.76-meter throw with the 16-pound shot (a high school shot weighs 12 pounds).
“But as my season went on, I eventually found myself at the Big 10 conference meet and ended up placing seventh. I was the only (Indiana) shot putter to score in about seven years. I did not make it to the indoor NCAA nationals, but during the outdoor season of 2016, I finished with a personal record of 19.27 and earned All-American honors with a 16th place finish at the NCAA nationals.”
Morrison followed that up with an indoor Big 10 title and outdoor runner-up despite intense competition.
“I qualified for my first indoor nationals at College Station, Texas, and placed 10th, getting my second All-American honor,” Morrison said. “Outdoor, I finished ninth at the NCAA nationals and then went on to compete with the big boys at the USATF outdoor nationals. There were multiple Olympians, including Ryan Crouser, the Olympic champion, at the event.”
Not a bad start to his collegiate career after winning the 2014 USATF Junior Olympic title when he was a Pioneer. He broke school records in discus and shot his senior year with Leavenworth. It all got him ready for college.
“College sports is exactly what I expected it to be,” Morrison said. “I love the fierce competition of every meet. I was so used to being able to walk into a meet and win by 15 feet. Now I have taken my fair share of losses and wins.
“The rudest awakening was that I did not know how long it would take for me to adjust to the heavier shot put. I thought, ‘Wow four pounds more will not be that much of a difference.’ Honestly there is almost nothing easy about being a college athlete. College sports is where the competitors separate from the ones who don’t want to work.”
Morrison has enjoyed participating for an Indiana team that continues to improve and is coming off of a 2017 indoor conference championship in the Big 10. But it doesn’t come without hard work.
“Values that high school athletes are missing is there has to be a certain level of dedication,” Morrison said. “People think that just because they have a team that is winning here means that it will carry over to the next level. Some background on me almost nobody knows about is I used to wake up at 4 a.m. every single morning during the winter and fall just to get in some practice at the local gym on Fort Leavenworth. Success loves preparation.”
He definitely remembers his prep days without any hesitation.
“I was one of the best to ever do it,” Morrison said. “I do not need to tell people that, my hard work in the ring and in the gym showed it. I have been reading tweets from athletes around here in the Leavenworth area and they think that just because they had one good season makes them one of the greatest. It is about what you are doing during the off-season that makes you the greatest.”