WACO, Texas — Moorea Long loves the podium.

And, she is getting used to standing on it. For the fifth spring in a row, the Paola graduate ended her track and field season on a podium to receive a medal.

Long, a freshman at Baylor University placed seventh in the high jump at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Norman at the University of Oklahoma.

She won the seventh-place national medal on Mother’s Day no less, giving her mother Becky quite a present that day.

“Competing in the Big 12 was such a blessing,” Long said. “I am so grateful for my high school coaches, friends and family members for helping me follow my dreams of competing on the collegiate stage. On top of having some Olympians as teammates, at almost every meet we got to watch national and world records fall as athletes were trying to get marks and times in hopes of qualifying for the Olympics. There was so much talent at every meet, and I was so blessed to be able to join them.

“My teammates are incredible,” she said. “As soon as I got to the school, they took me in and made me family. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Baylor is such an amazing school, both academically and athletically. I am beyond blessed to call it my home.”

Competing in the Big 12, Long was competing against some of the top track and field athletes in the nation on a weekly basis.

She faced the top women’s high jumper in her first meet with Baylor University and throughout the season.

“Being a freshman from Kansas, I was a little intimidates as I compete against the top girl in the nation at not only my first meet, but many meets,” Long said. “She won the women’s high jump at the NCAA National Championships for both indoor and outdoor. I later became friends with her and was able to join her on the podium at the Big 12 outdoor championships.

“Placing seventh in the big 12 championships was such an amazing way to end my freshman year,” she said. “I couldn’t have dreamed of a better finish to the season. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates as coaches cheering me along every practice and meet.”

Long was also recognized for her work in the classroom. As a member of the track and field team, her time is quite involved with practice, travel and competitions for the Baylor Bears. She spent more time on the track and traveling than she did in the classroom.

Despite the challenges of being a student-athlete at the collegiate level, Long was named to the Big 12 Academic Rookie Team.

“Missing a majority of my Thursday and Friday classes to travel to meets was tough,” she said. “I was in two of my classes only 41 percent of the time. Making it onto the Big 12 Academic Rookie Team was an honor, especially considering the circumstances of trying to adjust to college classes while being gone competing so often. I had to stay really organized and in close contact with all of my professors. My academics and athletics together taught me so much about time management and a good work ethic.”

During her career at Paola High School, Long was a four-time state qualifier and state placer in the high jump.

Long broke the Lady Panther high jump record at the Frontier League meet in Ottawa her senior season. She was down to her final three meets to set the mark and did so, not once, not twice, but three times.

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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