That is unless you are New London senior Morgan Luedy. The ultra athletic sprinter/jumper has made a home on the track in New London since she was born. Her mother, Dawn, was the boys track coach for the Wildcats around the time Luedy was a toddler and since Day 1, she has been training for this weekend’s state track and field championships.
It was around the time now New London coach Misty Ebinger became a volunteer coach for the Wildcats. Ebinger walked on to the track and saw high school athletes running, jumping and throwing. Then she looked down and saw Luedy, a preschooler who was right along side the athletes. By grade school, she was running the hurdles.
“Morgan has been a part of this program for longer than I have and this is my 12th year coaching at New London and 10th as head coach,” Ebinger said. “She has literally been here longer than I have.”
With stars in her eyes as a sprinting toddler, Luedy grew up to be on of the most decorated track athletes in New London history, and she has the bling to prove it. She owns 10 medals from either the district, regional or state track meets. That doesn’t include all of the hardware she’s won at invitationals and indoor meets.
Last season, Luedy was all over Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium as she advanced in four individual events, the 100 hurdles, 100-meter dash, 300 hurdles and the 200-meter dash. This season, her schedule is just as busy as she will be competing in the 200-meter dash, the 4x400-meter relay, the long jump and the 100-meter dash. She also was a state participant in the 4x200 as a sophomore. After advancing to the indoor state championships in the high jump and the 200, Luedy has qualified for state in eight different events.
But competing in four different events at the state championship level has to be exhausting, but it may be more exhausting for who ever is in charge of her shoes.
“It is pretty normal for me,” Luedy said. “When I don’t do that many events, I get kind of board when I just sit around and lose focus. There has been a meet where I’ve had to change my shoes seven times just to compete in all of the different events. It is nothing new. I love doing it because I don’t have the time to over-think anything.”
Through it all, Ebinger has been there to witness everything. She was there when Luedy broke the school 100 hurdles record in 15.58 seconds. She was there when Luedy broke the 300 hurdles in 46.62 seconds. She was there when Luedy broke the 200-meter dash record in 25.36 seconds and she was there when Luedy ran anchor for the record-setting 4x400 relay team with a time of 4:02.5.
“She has natural talent and an incredible work ethic,” Ebinger said. “The combination of the two make her very special. She is very grounded and a great teammate. We said at our banquet that she makes everyone around her run faster and dream bigger. She has been a rock on this team for four years. She is very special and she makes everyone better.”
With 10 district, regional or state medals, four school records and an 8-event state qualifier, Luedy admits it is about more than all of that. It is about more than the records and the individual accolades. It is about more than cementing her legacy as the best track athlete in New London history.
“It is cool,” Luedy said. “The best part is the community is very supportive. It is fun to be a part of a small school because everyone knows who you are and you get congratulated by people who I don’t even know their name. It makes you feel very grateful. It is so nice to have the people around you and I do this for them. I want to make them proud.”
Ebinger believes Luedy has already made enough people proud and is amazed every time she sees her compete. So much so that she cannot pinpoint the most amazing thing she has seen Luedy do on the track. Maybe its because it will happen this weekend.
“I cannot pin one moment down because every time she steps on the track, she does something even more amazing,” Ebinger said. “I wish I could have seen her run that last leg of the 4x400 at the regional meet, but I was in Tiffin with the boys team. She closed out a huge gap in order for the team to win the regional title. But I do not have a specific moment. We have come to expect that she is going to impress us even more every time she steps on the track.”
Leader of the Pack
Luedy joins the likes of Eden Copley, Maryonna Cathey and Dana Gustely as a member of the 4x400 team that took home the regional championship last week. None of whom have ever competed in the state track meet.
“My job this weekend is going to be to keep everyone calm,” Lueday said. “I don’t feel like there is as much pressure at the state meet as there is at regionals because you have already made it. State has the best of the best. The only think you really can do now is go out and do your best.”
Luedy is taking one thought into the state meet and has relayed it as a major piece of advice to her fellow relay teammates.
“Every race you have to go in and believe that you are or you can win,” Luedy said. “I just want to go out there and go out with a bang and enjoy my last time ever competing at the high school level.”
Of all of the medals, Luedy has one from the state meet. She took seventh in the 100-meter dash a year ago. This year, she is looking for more.
“It would be awesome to go out and win something,” Luedy said. “That has always been a huge goal of mine since I started track. I would love to win the 200 because it is my favorite event, but at the same time, I want this for them; I want to win for them.”
Ebinger believes this weekend will be a nice ending to one of the most successful careers in New London history.
“If she can make it to finals in all four events, that could be an amazing accomplishment,” Ebinger said. “It will be very tough for her in the 100 and the long jump, but we do have all of the confidence in the world for her to advance in the 200 and the 4x400. She only got to compete in the finals of one event last year, but she only had one thing to do on that Saturday and that is unusual for Morgan. I think seeing her step on that podium as many times as possible, it would end her career very nicely.”
Luedy runs in the 100-meter dash preliminaries at 10:20 a.m. on Friday in Lane 8, Heat 1, the 200-meter dash preliminaries at 11:40 a.m. on Friday in Lane 6, Heat 2, the 4x400 relay preliminaries at 12 p.m. on Friday and the long jump preliminaries at 1 p.m. on Friday.
As she finishes her last race with hopes of a state medal being placed around her neck, it will be like she always imagined as a toddler on the track.