By Mike Beas
As a pole vaulter, William Morris literally continues to raise the bar when it comes to his athletic career at Plainfield High School.
With his senior track and field season well underway, Morris continues his dogged pursuit of shoehorning two major accomplishments into a relatively short period of time — a berth in the state finals at Ben Davis on June 4 and taking down the Quakers’ school record.
The latter, a vault of 14 feet 10½ inches by former Plainfield track and field standout Todd Fishel, has been keeping challengers at arm’s length since the late-1980s. Morris’ previous personal-best of 14 feet 5 inches, cleared at the 2019 Mid-State Conference Meet at Whiteland as a sophomore, a season in which he just missed qualifying for state by tying for fourth at the Lafayette Jefferson regional.
Morris hoped to build on the momentum with a superb junior season, but all spring sports were canceled in 2020. All Morris could do this time out was hope there was a 2021 campaign and then deliver as best he could. On April 17, he gained ground on the program standard, vaulting 14 feet 6 inches at the Lawrence Central Invitational.
“Going back to last year, our goals were pretty high,” said Plainfield track coach Brian Pelkey. “Then he loses out on the indoor and outdoor state meets, and then we don’t have indoor state this year. William has worked really hard, and he could do other events for us, but we said, ‘Hey, let’s focus on the pole vault.’
“We want to keep him healthy and try to get him on the medal stand at state this year.”
Morris did a Q&A with ICON:
Q: When and how did you first become interested in pole vaulting?
A: I did gymnastics for 10 years, and in my freshman year I fractured my back, so I decided to quit. My friends wanted me to try pole vaulting. I went right into it as a sophomore, and in my first meet I did 10-6. After that, I got better and better. It’s fun to go up in the air and fly for just a few seconds.
Q: What are your goals for this season?
A: Since it’s my senior year, I obviously want to make it to state, and at least place in the top five. The school record would be great, but to me it’s more important to go to state.
Q: Do you plan to attend college, and what would be your major?
A: I’m not sure where I want to go yet, but I would major in biology. I didn’t have a junior track season, and I think that’s when most high school athletes get scholarship offers. I hope it happens this year. I would like to keep pole vaulting. I just want to keep getting better and better to the point where someone wants to recruit me.