Tom Batters

Morgan Ryan is competitive.

No, that’s not a strong enough word.

Tenacious. Killer instinct. Relentless.

Those are some of the terms her coach, Ron Bachman, uses to describe Ryan, the resilient Metamora senior who holds the school pole vault record.

“Let’s just say she has a lot of Ryan in her,” Bachman said, referring to Morgan’s father, Redbirds football coach, Pat Ryan. “She hates to lose.

She goes after what she wants, and she is not happy unless she finishes first.”

But that is only half of the picture.

Bachman said Ryan knows when to shut off that competitive switch.

“She is a really nice kid,” he said. “She works extremely hard, and she takes it very seriously, but, after the meet is over, she is polite, respectful, and fun to be around.”

Ryan acknowledged her father’s influence, but said she wanted to make her own name for herself during her MTHS athletic career.

“My dad helped me a lot, and he’s a big part of the history of this school,” she said. “That’s why the pole vault record meant so much to me. It made me a part of that history as well.”

Ryan broke Caitlin Quinn’s school record last year when she soared nine feet into the air and cleared the bar. She has since broken her own record multiple times.

She started the pole vault in sixth grade, just to try something different.

“I was doing gymnastics at the time, and I just thought I would try it,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed doing it. It’s something that not many people know about. I’ve tried to perfect it as much as I can.”

That’s harder than it looks.

Before a pole vaulter even leaves the ground, she must first master the intricate steps of the approach.

“There are a lot of steps that go into it,” Ryan said. “And, then there’s the pole. If you don’t hold it right, then it could be a disaster.”

Bachman said he expects Ryan to have a strong showing at the Rock Island Sectional this weekend.

“She seems so much stronger this year,” he said. “I think you’ll see a good effort from her.”

Ryan said she would like to make another trip to State, after a disappointing finish at last year’s state meet, but her main goal is to help her team go as far as it can.

“When I go into a meet, I feel that I am doing something bigger than myself,” she said. “If I can do something that helps our team, then that’s what it’s all about.”

Ryan won the pole vault and 100-hurdles events at the Mid-Illini Conference championship meet Thursday. She was second in the 300-hurdles and fourth in the long jump.

Ryan plans to attend Monmouth College next year. She said she would like to compete in track for the Fighting Scots.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said. “I’m excited about it, though. I think I can compete at the next level.”