2023 Students of Distinction
Reese Morkert won state cross country championship
Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.
Student: Reese Morkert
School: Gig Harbor High School
Category: Athletic Achievement
In spite of injuries and other setbacks, Reese Morkert achieved her goal of being one of the best cross country runners in Washington when she won Class 3A state meet. She also made first team All South Sound Conference, was West Central District 3 champion and was voted the Gig Harbor High School team MVP in 2022.
She also has won accolades in track and field, qualifying for state in the 1,600 meters and the 1,600-meter relay while earning school track MVP in 2022.
Track has been her favorite thing in high school, she said. “All the memories I made with my teammates in the past four years – those are the best. Especially ones that were made when we traveled to races like the state meet each season. Those are memories I’ll never forget.”
Winning the Class 3A cross country state title during her senior season was her proudest achievement. “When I joined the cross country team in my freshman year, I never imagined that I would end my senior season as a state champion,” she said. “I’m so proud to represent my team and school every time I step on the line.”
Injuries were her biggest challenge, starting with knee surgery in the seventh grade to fix a cartilage defect. After that surgery, and other times when she couldn’t run during the long months of physical therapy and rehabilitation, it only made running all the more important, she said. During those difficult times when running wasn’t possible, she found alternative ways to work out, and kept pushing herself while her teammates ran.
GHHS cross country and track coach Patty Ley noted that Reese “has never been afraid to work, and, if necessary, work differently – like hopping on an old elliptical trainer, then onto a bike which became hard Peloton workouts.”
Reese’s willingness to “do the work” also shows up academically. She has a 3.94 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society.
This fall, Reese will head to Corvallis, Oregon, to run for Oregon State University while she studies kinesiology. She looks forward to a career as a physical therapist or chiropractor.
Her suggestion to younger kids for having a successful high school experience is “Don’t be afraid to set ambitious goals and work to achieve them. If you work hard and set your mind to something, you can do anything.”
Parents: Kristen & Cory Morkert
Achievements/Activities: Varsity letters in cross country and track; Tacoma Athletic Commission Cross Country Athlete of the Year; first team, All SSC; Team MVP; West Central District 3 champion; All State cross country team; State Class 3A Cross Country champion; 2022 Track MVP; State qualifier – 1600m and 4x400m; All Conference; National Honor Society
Favorite teacher: Mr. Milbourn. “The classes that he teaches, such as human body systems and sports medicine align with my future interests and have helped me discover my passion for the field of health sciences. I enjoy hands-on learning experiences like taping in the training room and learning about the other elements of the profession through sports medicine classes.”
Best thing about GHHS: “The community and support that surrounds it in all aspects. It’s great to see the community of students and staff come together to support our teams and recognize their accomplishments and the hard work they put in to proudly represent the school. The support and unity for all students, whether in athletics or academics, makes me proud to be a Tide and represent this school as well as community.”