When Cherish Morrison arrived in Blaine last July she had already set her sights on the state track meet.
This past week at the subdistrict meet in Burlington she continued her march toward the state finals at Mount Tahoma high school on May 29 and 30 with runaway victories in the 100 meter dash (12.31 seconds), 200 (26.13) and 400 (57.24, a personal best) plus a victory in the 4x200 (1:45) along with Breanna Adams, Kiersten Sigfusson and Breanna Olason.
Morrison, still undefeated in 2A varsity track competition, is a study in contrasts, a cheerful and positive kid who’s been moved through 13 different foster placements in the past eight years.
“She was last in Georgia and wasn’t sure she wanted to come here,” said her current foster mom, Elisa Becerra, “but she made friends easily here and really likes it.” She added that she and her husband Ed are now her guardians and are working toward adoption “and now she’ll graduate from Blaine. She’s always had the potential and just needed the opportunity, to not to be shuffled around as much.”
Morrison herself agrees. “I really like it here,” she said, “and right away I had a lot of friends.” The precocious 15-year-old likes the everyone-knows-everyone atmosphere at Blaine high school, and has bonded especially well with her track coach Mike Grambo.
“I went into his weight training class,” she said, “and he kind of took me under his wing.”
Grambo likes to challenge his athletes, and in Morrison he met a perfect student, someone with blazing speed in the dashes who simply needs to know how to use it in order to dominate her events.
She started running track at Whatcom Middle School in Bellingham, but knew little about how to do it. “I ran it in a good time, then they tied my shoes and I cut two seconds off that,” she laughed. As a kid she was known for being able to out-run others on their bicycles, “and I still can,” she said.
She had 37 victories this first year on Blaine’s varsity track team, including 27 firsts individually in the dashes, three on the 4x100 relay team, five on the 4x200 and two on the 4x400. Her personal bests are eye-blinks off the state record times in her best events, the 100, 200 and 400 meter races.
She said her secret is, “Determination. Tell me I can’t do something and that’s the next thing I’ll do.” “That’s right,” said her principal, Scott Ellis, who calls her, “A really great kid, one we’re happy to have with us. Everyone who knows her likes her a lot. When she came to school last fall the first thing she said to me was ‘I’m going to win state,” and you know, I think she will!”
Morrison said that Grambo’s coaching fits her well. “He won’t take anything but our best,” she said, “but he also won’t let us hurt ourselves by doing something stupid.”
The 5’8”, 112-pound Minnesota native also enjoys music, playing the violin, piano and bells. She’s active in the Boys and Girls Club and likes basketball but plans to go out for volleyball in the winter, “but my main focus is track. Running.”
She has already been contacted by at least one college and seems a lock for a scholarship.
This week the district 2A track district finals will be held at Civic Field in Bellingham beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 22. Morrison will be the one in Blaine colors leading the pack in at least four of the races.