Courtesy Eliza Morgan
Senior Eliza Morgan is usually sprinting down a runway and jumping feet first into sand, but this year, she’ll be jumping straight into college track and field without a final high school season.
She has decided not to participate in Los Altos High School’s track season because she didn’t want to risk injuring herself by going straight into competitions without a full preseason. However, Eliza’s track and field career is far from over, as she’s been recruited as a long jumper to Swarthmore College’s Division III team.
Eliza said she was shocked that collegiate jumping was even a possibility for her. She filled out a Next College Student Athlete profile on a whim her freshman year and only remembered it her junior year when a college coach reached out. She started talking to Swarthmore coaches in April 2020 and continued working with them throughout the summer before verbally committing in late July.
“I was kind of blindsided by [the recruitment process] — I didn’t go into it with a goal because I didn’t know I could go into it,” Eliza said. “I was like, ‘Well let’s see what happens,’ and it just so happened to turn out this way.”
Swarthmore is a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania with standout academics and a focus on graduate school preparation. For Eliza, the women’s track and field Assistant Coach John Noon elevated Swarthmore athletics above her other options.
“The coach reminds me of my grandpa,” Eliza said. “They’re both very to the point, which is nice because you know where you stand. He asks what your areas of weakness are and says what we’re going to do to fix them. He has a plan for how to help me get better.”
Eliza is excited to get back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic cut her junior season short, as she was only a quarter inch away from her personal record in the long jump last year.
“By the time the track season came around, I’d been training for four or five months, lifting weights to build muscle mass to help me ramp up,” Eliza said. “I jumped around 16 feet at the [last] meet and was thinking I could improve a lot more because there was time to fine tune things.”
Her mental resilience and diligence in training are part of the reason Eliza has come so far since her introduction to track in seventh grade PE class.
Eliza remembered feeling as if she “plateaued” after jumping 15 feet and 11 inches as a freshman but not seeing large results in her following meets, despite putting in the effort.
“It’s easy to make excuses,” Eliza said. “One of the hardest things is owning up and admitting, ‘I didn’t do well and it’s not because of the wind or my spikes,’ because that’s the only way you can identify how to get better.”
Track and field has presented its challenges, but overall, Eliza is excited to keep the balance between academics, athletics and extracurriculars that she’s found during her time at LAHS.
“It’s great to do sports — it gives me a regular break from academics, keeps me in good physical health and puts me in touch with a really strong and supportive athletic community,” Eliza said. “I’m looking forward to keeping this part of my life for four more years.”