All it took was a healthy season.
Evan Morrow had been expected to be one of North Jersey’s top distance runners as early as his freshman cross-country season at Hasbrouck Heights, when he was the fourth man on the first Aviator boys team to qualify for the New Jersey State Meet of Champions.
While Morrow’s career had been a successful one, with multiple top 10 cross-country finishes throughout the years and several league championships in track, the promise he showed as a freshman had not been fully realized, through no fault of his own.
When he suffered his second broken ankle in less than a year in early 2022, he even considered not running spring track and resting with a roster spot at Rutgers University in the fall already assured.
But it’s not in Morrow’s nature to give up.
Witness his comeback after a fall at the Bergen Championships C 800 race last month. He went down about 200 meters to the race and managed to come back from ninth place to victory with an extraordinary effort. So a few injuries weren’t likely to stop him.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries during the last four years and really never had a healthy season after the my freshman fall until now,” Morrow said. “But now, things are looking great.”
The litany of setbacks is long: a partially torn patellae in both knees during his (one) freshman basketball season that limited spring track, the COVID pandemic that cost him his sophomore spring, and his first broken ankle, in April of last year and not properly diagnosed until two months later.
“I didn’t want to lose my junior spring,” said Morrow, who kept running through the pain and won league titles at 800 and 1,600 meters before coming up short at sectionals. “When I saw the doctor in mid-June I was actually relieved because at least there was a reason I was running so poorly.”
He rested, had his foot in a boot for three weeks, did some physical therapy and had an excellent cross-country season, becoming the Aviators’ first sectional champ in more than 50 years and placing third in Group 1. He set indoor school records in the 1,000, 1,600 and 3,200 in a pair of December meets before he was unable to finish a seven mile run on Jan. 2.
“I got halfway through it and I had to call my mom to come get me,” Morrow said. It was the same injury, to his right ankle this time.
That’s when he nearly gave up.
Enter Dr. Dave Levesque of Westwood and Dynamic PT of Rutherford, his new doctor and therapist.
“I credit them 110% for getting me back, they kept me mentally and physically motivated,” Morrow said. “I did a lot of work on an anti-gravity treadmill and a lot of PT.”
After 10 weeks off the track, Morrow was able to return for the Aviator Relays at his own home track on April 8, the first time he had been able to race in the meet.
And he came back with some speed and a kick, a kick that won him the Bergen Meet of Champions 1,600 and every race but one so far this spring.
“It means a lot to be able to come back after it seemed like I was counted out so many times,” said Morrow, who looks for his first state group track medal this weekend.
“I’ll never give up.”
Sport: Track and field
School: Hasbrouck Heights
Class: Senior. Age: 18
Accomplishment: The Rutgers-bound senior won two individual events and anchored a winning relay and finished second in a fourth event at the North 1, group 1 sectional championships.
Also nominated: Aran Basaran of Mahwah, Sammy Aguilar of Ridgefield Park, Andrew Argenziano of Demarest, Phil Centineo of Waldwick, and Alex Bulger of Hackensack for baseball; and Jack Attali of Demarest and Kane (Kenny) Uchida of Tenafly for track and field.