“I'm excited about the future of our running program,” said Carpenter. “I appreciate the support and confidence shown by Dr. (Lee President Paul) Conn and Dr. (Vice-President Walt) Mauldin in allowing our department to create a full-time coaching position. Coach Morgan has done an outstanding job this semester as the interim coach and will do a great job in taking our program to a new level. We are very pleased to welcome him as a full-time member of our staff. “
Morgan, a graduate of Walker Valley High School before receiving his degree from Lee in the spring of 2011, served as an interim coach for the four Lee teams while maintaining a teaching position at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.
While running for the Flames he became the first male to qualify and compete in the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Nationals. He also served as team captain for all four years and was a three-time outdoor track national qualifier.
Morgan holds the school record for the indoor mile (4:17.1), the outdoor 1500m (3.59.03) and the outdoor 800m (1:55.4). His other running achievements include 2012 Tennessee State Half-Marathon Champion (1:14.09) and the 2011 Georgia 10-miler State Champion (53:48).
“I have a passion for cross country and track and really feel like this is where the Lord wants me to be,” said Morgan when asked about accepting Lee’s full-time position. “Coaching at the collegiate level is something I have wanted to do for a long time and achieving this goal at such a young age is a blessing. I’m very thankful for the opportunity Dr. Conn and coach Carpenter have given me to coach at my alma mater.”
Morgan added that having a very young and talented group of athletes really excites him. “I formed a special bond with many of our runners this spring. I look forward to the continued time I get to spend working with them.”
He will begin his first full-time term by working with around 30 athletes with men's and women's programs combined. “Over the next two to three years we are looking to reach 50 to 60 athletes,” he noted.
Morgan already has several goals in mind for his teams. “Our men's team never made it to the NAIA championship in cross-country,” he pointed out. “Our goal over the next few years is to become a team that can qualify for the (NCAA) Division II Nationals. The group we currently have has the capabilities to do that.
“Our women's team has had more success than our men's team over the last few years, qualifying for NAIA Nationals three out of the last four years,” Morgan pointed out. “Our goal for them is similar to our men's team and that is to work toward being a Top 20 team in Division II.
Morgan believes staying active as a runner himself him helps when it comes to coaching his athletes. “Being an active runner helps me relate better with what the athletes are doing. If I ask them to go out and run 10 miles at a hard pace and I am there every step of the way, it adds motivation.”
Actions speak louder than words. Lee and Morgan proudly proclaimed five NAIA All-Americans last season in indoor and outdoor track. Now that he’s on board full time, the All-American numbers will continue to grow as the Flames and Lady Flames begin to climb up the ladder against NCAA Division II competition.