TCU’s Gracie Morris qualifies for cross country nationals

TCU’s Gracie Morris finished 18th overall at the 2022 Big 12 Conference Championships. It was the highest individual finish at a conference meet since Brenley Goetzen finished third overall in 2016. Oct. 28, 2022. (Photo courtesy of:

By Micah Pearce, Staff Writer

Gracie Morris, TCU cross country’s top performer, advanced to the national meet after finishing second at the regional championships.

She was in 13th through a third of the race, but she passed the next 11 runners in front of her to become the only Frog to qualify for the national meet in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

She is the first Horned Frog runner to advance to the national meet since Brenley Goetzen in 2016. Morris clocked in a time of 20:17.1 in the 6k event.

TCU’s Gracie Morris finished second at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships for cross country, securing her spot at nationals. Nov. 11, 2022. (

Morris has experience at the national level, despite only competing for TCU’s track team last spring. Last track season, she went to nationals for the 1500m, where she placed 22nd in a time of 4:25. 

Both of TCU’s cross country teams traveled to College Station to compete at the NCAA regional championship meet. 

The men finished 17th as a team with leading runner Stone Burke finishing 53rd in a time of 32:34.7 for the 10k.

The women, behind Morris, took 11th as a team.

There was no way of qualifying for the regional meet. Teams decide how many runners they will send, whether that is one individual, two or a full team of seven. 

“We brought a full squad to regionals,” said Noah Winters. “It’s another opportunity to race and we’ve been performing really well, so why not see what we can learn from it.”

The cross country postseason is different from other sports because they don’t compete in any tournament. It’s a race against regional opponents instead of conference opponents. 

The national championships will be Nov. 19 and will be aired on ESPNU at 8 a.m.

How they got there

TCU’s men’s team finished ninth at the Big 12 Championship meet, but the only two other teams in the south central region are No. 2 Texas and No. 11 Baylor. 

On the women’s side, they placed 10th at the conference meet, but have been ranked in the top 10 in the south central all season. No. 2 Texas and No. 10 Baylor are also on the list. 

TCU fell out of the rankings after the Arturo Barrios Invitational, but they did not run top runners, including Morris, who went on to place 18th overall at the conference meet.

Morris’ 18th place was the highest a Horned Frog has finished in a conference championship since 2016, when Brenley Goertzen finished third overall. 

“I had a lot of confidence going into regionals,” said Morris. 

Morris had been dealing with injuries for the last two years while she attended Texas, but transferred to TCU, which she said helped get her healthy. Now, she is focused on the regional championship. 

“This was my first cross country season in two years, so I’ve been excited with how well I’ve been able to run,” said Morris. “I’m wanted to continue that success at regionals.”

Temperatures were favorable, sitting around 50 degrees Fahrenheit with cloud coverage, but the rain that hit Lubbock beforehand left the course muddy. 

“In muddy conditions like that, grit is what gets you through the race,” said Burke, who finished first for the Frogs in the conference championships.

Burke said he has been training a lot with teammate Noah Winters, so it was not a surprise when he saw Winters out in front through the first mile. 

“We both said coming in that we wanted to run together and push each other,” said Burke.

Winters took time off during the season for personal reasons, so him finishing behind Burke was an impressive feat of “catching up to the other guys in time,” said Winters. 

Injuries had plagued the Frogs on the men’s side for most of the season. ‘Hell Month,’ a month without competition where the team has more intense workouts, helped aid some of those ailments.

“We had a few guys dealing with nagging issues and illness,” said Winters. “But they were able to rally during the month without the stress of competition.”

Burke wasn’t able to run at regionals last year due to injuries, so this year was his first experience. 

“Having the opportunity to compete at another high-level meet is something we always look forward to,” said Burke.

The men’s season has concluded and the women’s season is over as a team. Morris will be the only one competing for the Frogs next weekend.