Big 12 Title in Sight for KU`s Denesha Morris

Feb. 24, 2011

KU sprinter Denesha Morris has had to adjust to several cultural, geographical, and social changes since moving to Lawrence from Manchester, Jamaica a year and a half ago. However, one big difference has been more difficult to adjust to than the others.

“Obviously the weather!” Denesha said without hesitation, “It’s so different.”

Luckily for Denesha, she won’t have to worry about the weather this weekend at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Devaney Sports Center should provide the sophomore with the comfortable environment she needs to perform at her best, just as she has done throughout the entire indoor season. In just two seasons, Denesha has quickly become one of KU’s top female sprinters and is quickly gathering notoriety from athletes and coaches from around the Midwest as one of the fastest collegiate athletes in the region.

This season, Morris currently has six first-place finishes in three separate events, and just last month ran the third fastest 60-meters in KU history. Last week Denesha, along with her 4X400 meter relay team, took first at the ISU Classic with a time of 3:39.93, the best time for the team this season.

This weekend in Lincoln, she’ll be competing in the 60-meters, 200-meters, and the 4X400 relay and with Morris constantly setting new PR’s in each of those events, the Big 12 Championships couldn’t be coming at a better time.

“I feel like I’m in shape” Morris said of her preparation for the weekend meet. “I’m looking to better both my (PR) times in the 60 and the 200. I’m just hoping for the best.”

If she were to indeed set personal bests in each of those events, some top finishes are sure be coming her way this weekend in Lincoln.

Even before her time at KU, Denesha was competing against the best female sprinters in Jamaica, a country that traditionally produces the best sprinters in the world. She was a member of the 4×100-meter relay team that took first at the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games. She also finished second in the 200-meter dash at the 2007 CARIFTA Games. It’s easy to see that Morris knows what it’s like to compete at the highest level.

She was a top prospect coming out of high school and was recruited by several of the top track programs in the country, but for Denesha, KU stood out above all the rest.

“One of the reasons I chose KU was because of coach (Stanley) Redwine.” Morris referring to Kansas’ highly successful head track and field coach. “He was one of the first coaches from here to really recruit me. I just saw it as a great opportunity to come here and be coached by him.”

The highly touted recruit didn’t disappoint after committing to KU. In just her freshman year she ran the fastest 60 and 200 meter times of the season for the Jayhawks, and competed in those events at the Big 12 Championships, placing in the top 15 in both. However, the highlight of her year came in the outdoor portion of the track and field season.

“My favorite memory would definitely be when we made it to nationals last year in the 4X400 relay.” Morris said of the team that qualified for the NCAA finals last year in Austin, Texas at the NCAA West preliminaries. The team placed 11th with a season best time of 3:37.04.

So when Denesha isn’t on the track what does she like to do in her spare time?

“I just hang out with friends or listen to music,” Morris said. “All my life it’s been track though. There’s not much time to do too much else.”

She does have to spend time in the classroom however, as she plans to major and get a degree in psychology. And as far as her plans following college, “After KU and outside of track, I might stay here and get a job. Or maybe go back home and just settle down. Maybe get a job there.”

Morris makes it seem that she hasn’t thought that far ahead. In all likelihood, her main focus at this point is the task at hand; that being the Big 12 Championships this weekend, as well as the outdoor season in the coming months where she is sure to continue to impress. Big 12 and NCAA titles may not come all this year for the young sophomore, but the potential is there for some big accomplishments later in her career at KU and even professionally. Win or lose, expect a great showing this weekend from Denesha Morris.