Some of the best things in life happen unexpectedly, and sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.

Some of the best things in life happen unexpectedly, and sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all. 

This was the exact scenario for former Plainview track standout, Morgan Graves. 

Graves currently attends Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., where she recently completed her freshman year as a member of the women’s track and cross country team. 

Morgan didn’t always intend to attend college in Kansas, but fate had other ideas for her and her sister Mallory. 

“I did not want to go to Kansas, because I had initially planned on going only an hour away from home to college at East Central University in Ada, until my sister, Mallory, accidentally applied to the wrong college,” Graves said. 

“My dad and Mallory went up to Kansas to check it out, and instantly fell in love with the campus. When they came home, they made me apply. Shortly after, the head track and field coach, Tim Testa, contacted me and the rest is history. I fell in love with it just as quickly as they did.” 

Before college, Graves went to Plainview High School and graduated in 2018. 

She started running for Jerry Naylor in the fifth grade through her senior year.

During her time at Plainview, the cross country and track teams were four-time Regional Champions. 

Her freshman and junior year, Plainview won the Class 4A state cross country championship.  

“You could say I was a fish in a pond, and he (Coach Naylor) was the fisherman that got me hooked on running,” Graves said. “I am so glad he did, too. I LOVE HIM. He was one of the greatest coaches I have ever had, and seeing all of the honors that he has received, and is still receiving proves that as well.”

“Coach Naylor is the definition of hard work,” Graves added “He was always up at the crack of dawn and was always the last one to leave at night. For someone at his age being so dedicated to the sport, it really speaks for his character. He is truly the greatest.”

Before she could trade in her red and white for the purple and white of Southwestern College, Graves had to first adjust to the change of pace her new surroundings would bring her, both on the course and in the classroom. 

Graves is majoring in Biology with the intent to someday become a marine biologist.

“My freshman year of college was a huge change for me,” Graves said. 

“Moving to a different state, away from everything I knew, and really the first time being far from home for more than a week at a time was hard. I had to adjust, but I quickly fell in love with the little town of Winfield, Kan.”

“My classes were tough,” Graves added. “But I definitely believe that going to a high school like Plainview really helped prepare for college more than any other place would have. The teachers and faculty at Southwestern are amazing. Their whole goal is to help you succeed, and to make sure you graduate. They often spend many overtime hours answering emails, responding to texts, and any other possible way to help their students out. Bigger universities don’t have that special gift of professors that care.” 

During her first year of being a college athlete, Graves got to learn under the guidance of head coach Tim Testa.

Unfortunately, Graves will have to adjust to a new head coach this coming season as Testa will be leaving Southwestern College. Nevertheless though, Testa had nothing but praise for Graves and the lasting impact she left on him.  

“Morgan’s effort and consistency were awesome to see from a freshman,” Testa said. “Many times kids come into a program and are not equipped with the work ethic or desire to be better, but that wasn’t the case with Morgan. I loved getting the chance to work with her each day. She is a special kid.”

“Leaving SC is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make,” Testa added. “The school and specifically the cross country/track programs will always have a special place in my heart. I will miss it dearly.” 

Graves added having a coach like Testa only made her freshman year experience that much more special. 

“Running cross country and track for Southwestern College and for Coach Testa was my favorite part of my freshman year,” She said. “Coach Testa helped me fall in love with running again, and made the sport exciting. Workouts were never boring or dreadful, because I knew coach would be right there pumping us up the whole time and blasting music. He always encouraged me and gave me a helping hand whenever I needed it. I also loved getting to know my team and becoming friends with them too.”

For some, going to college is a task that is usually done alone, but for Graves, she was lucky to go with her best friend, who just happens to be her twin sister. 

“I got to go with my twin sister, Mallory, and we roomed together our freshmen year,” Graves said. “It was so nice to live with someone I already knew, and previously lived with at home. We already shared basically everything our whole lives, so it wasn’t as big of an adjustment, especially since I had a piece of home with me.” 

“The friends that I made because of my sport are so special to me,” Graves added. “I wouldn’t have ever made those friendships and bonds if it wasn’t for the long runs, hard workouts, encouraging each other, and team nights together outside of practice.” 

Graves also spoke about the atmosphere which occurs on meet days, and said it was a special kind of feeling having so much support for her and her teammates. 

“Meet days are the best, because everyone decorates themselves in all the purple that they have in support of the team,” she said.  “We do that because we are so proud to be able say that we are from Southwestern College. The attitude and atmosphere of our team definitely differs than that of high school. My fellow SC teammates would line the track when it was time for me to race, and would be waiting for me afterwards to congratulate me. I cannot wait to go back and see them again.”