COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene High senior Morgan Struble has dreamed of living somewhere fabulous when she grows up for some time now.
Starting in the fall, that dream will become a reality - and, she'll get to compete at the NCAA Division I level to boot.
Struble, who currently holds the fastest time in the state in the 5A 300-meter hurdles, recently signed a letter of intent to compete in track and field at the University of Hawaii next year.
"I figured that if they're paying for part of my college, I might as well go on vacation for the next five years," Struble said. "I'll just live somewhere warm and do my work there in hot weather."
Struble intends to major in engineering.
"I really like the weather, so I might study meteorology," Struble said. "I like watching windmills, power dams and solar energy. I really want to get into a mechanical or energy field."
To pass the time between the fall and spring, Struble often is in the mountains.
"I like to ski," Struble said. "That's my big winter thing that's not keeping me bored during the winter."
She'll trade her skis for a different kind of sport upon arriving in Honolulu.
"The season changing is so pretty," Struble said. "I'm going to miss that, but I'm going to learn to surf while I'm there."
Struble transferred from Big Sky High in Missoula after her sophomore year, when her father was transfered to a job in Spokane. At Big Sky, she placed third at state in the 300 hurdles in 2010 with a time of 45.94 seconds. In her first year in Coeur d'Alene, Struble set school records in the 100 hurdles (14.44) and 300 hurdles (43.40).
"The competition is about the same," said Struble of the two states. "But when we get into some of those meets against schools from Washington, it gets a lot different."
Upon arriving in Coeur d'Alene, Struble had to make a decision between going to Coeur d'Alene or neighboring Lake City High.
"I looked at the different schools and compared class schedules and sports," Struble said. "I really liked what Coeur d'Alene had to offer."
After a meeting with Coeur d'Alene High activities secretary Judy Mayotte, Struble was sold.
"Judy found an article about Linda (Lanker) and how she's a good coach," Struble said. "I thought I'd try it out and it was close to the house (our family) wanted."
Lanker took over as head coach at Coeur d’Alene three years ago, and is also the hurdles coach at the Community Colleges of Spokane.
“She’s been so nice since I’ve gotten here,” Struble said. “She’s been so helpful and caring. She’s my coach, my mentor and my friend and reaches out to help with anything I need — track or school related. She’s always there to help.”
Struble has since earned high praise from Lanker.
“I can’t tell you how excited I was to get a girl that had some experience in the hurdles,” said Lanker, who also competed in the event in high school and college. “Usually the girls are kind of raw and I’ve got to start from scratch. I was excited because I got not only a girl with speed, but had a few things that would be easy to change.”
Struble won the 300 hurdles and was third in the 100 hurdles at the 102-team Pasco Invitational in mid-April.
“By far in the 30 years I’ve been coaching, she’s the best female athlete I’ve coached,” Lanker said. “She’s a great leader — especially to Kaitlyn (Gunnerson). She’s right behind her and Kaitlyn admires her in every way — not just on the track, but because she’s a quality young lady, her grades are good and is just a good all-around young woman.”
Struble has her sights set on defending her 5A 300 hurdles championship when the state meet unfolds Friday and Saturday at Rocky Mountain High in Meridian.
“To re-win it, I’d really like to,” Struble said. “I’m still here and it’s my title, I feel entitled to it. It’s mine and someone will have to take it from me.”
Struble finished second in the 100 hurdles and will also compete in the school’s 4x100 and 4x400 relay team along with freshmen Victoria Goetz and Kaitlyn Gunnerson, and sophomore Brittany Tackett.
“I’m super excited for our team,” Struble said. “All of us have been working at breaking the school record this year (in the 4x100).”
Struble said she’ll miss the setting of the state meet, which moves from Bronco Stadium to Rocky Mountain this year.
“It’s kind of sad we don’t get to use their big facilities,” Struble said of Boise State. “It’s a shame we don’t have that big reader board (scoreboard) and that fieldhouse where you can warm up. There, it really felt like a state meet instead of just another high school meet.”
Struble used to prepare to run by listening to music, but instead talks with teammates before races.
“I used to (listen to music), but they don’t allow it in the field anymore,” Struble said. “When it comes to state and real serious races — I just get into a zone and get myself ready to go.”
Struble, who won both the 100 and 300 hurdles at regionals, will be joined at state in the 300 hurdles by Gunnerson, who finished third at regionals.
“It’s just nice to have another hurdler to train with,” Struble said. “It’s not often you have someone in the same event you can train with that knows what you’re going through and compete against to keep pushing you.”
“I’ll miss her positive attitude,” Lanker said of Struble. “She’s been so easy to coach because she’s so bright and so intelligent. Everything you tell her to do, she does. I’m going to miss her. She’s been like a daughter to me. It’s going to be pretty emotional on awards night.”