By Taylor Miller
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Oklahoma State wrestler Jon Morrison is nearing the end of his collegiate career, and he’s got a lot to show for it. But he has a few more things to chase down.
Morrison has been on a four-year journey to achieve an individual NCAA title. He suffered bumps and bruises along the way and faced many obstacles, but the fifth-ranked 133-pounder never backed down.
He began his collegiate career wrestling at 125 pounds. In 2011, his redshirt freshman season, he entered the Big 12 tournament as the No. 1 seed, but was unable to perform due to a leg problem that had him hospitalized that week. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, he put together a 39-18 record. But after the 2011-12 season, he recognized things needed to change.
“After my sophomore year, I realized that I hadn’t done what I wanted to do and only had two more years to do it,” Morrison said. “I didn’t want to think ‘what if’ after my career was over. I was tired of the disappointment. I decided to go all in and get want I want out of this, and that made a huge difference for me.”
During the 2012-13 season, Morrison bumped up to 133 pounds, where he compiled a 30-8 record, highlighted by 11 wins over ranked opponents, a 133-pound Southern Scuffle title, a Big 12 title and All-American honors.
Morrison credits much of his recent success to coach John Smith and his coaching staff.
“After I struggled those first two years and didn’t allow myself to really be coachable, a lot of coaches would have gone out and recruited someone else, but our staff stuck it out,” Morrison said. “Coach Smith never gave up on me. He had faith in me and believed in my abilities. The other coaches really stuck with it, and I think that even though I worked hard to get here, I couldn’t have done it without them believing in me and pushing me.”
Now, Morrison, who spent several weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation, is 14-1 on the season, repeating as the 133-pound Scuffle champion. His lone loss came at the hands of No. 5 Tony Ramos of Iowa, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Smith said Morrison has put it behind him and is focused on the next bout.
“Jon doesn’t wear too much on his sleeve,” Smith said. “He’s brushed it off and moved on, and that’s what we do. We look at what we did wrong or what we didn’t do, and we fix it. He’s got a great arsenal of skills on his feet and we just need to continue to develop him and make him sharp.”
Morrison said he’s heading into the last half of the season focused and ready to take what is his.
“I need to continue to focus on the end goal, which is an NCAA title, and build toward that every day,” he said. “During the second half of the season, I have to push through that mid-season grind and work toward that NCAA title that I know I’mcapable of getting.”
Morrison is a Big 12 champion and NCAA All-American, but those aren’t the only things he’s cherished about this journey.
The senior from Orland Park, Ill., joined the OSU program in 2009 with the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation. He was brought in with Oklahoma natives Dallas Bailey, Ladd Rupp, Blake Rosholt and Chris Perry.
Morrison said he thinks one of the most underrated things about wrestling for a Division I wrestling program is the bonds made with teammates.
“You take that for granted when you’re younger--coming to practice every day and being around all your friends,” Morrison said. “Really, it’s like a fraternity. Your teammates are pretty much your brothers and, it’s awesome. I’ve been thinking about that a lot more lately and not taking that for granted. I want to make sure that I don’t let any days slip past me.”
The thrill of the chase is also something that has made his career special.
“The feeling of being able to chase something is awesome,” he said. “There’s nothing in life like this where you can chase something that not everyone gets the opportunity to chase. I’ve reflected on that a lot this season.”
With just a couple of months left in the season, Morrison looks back on his time as a Cowboy and smiles.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed it. I’m an Oklahoma State Cowboy, and that’s pretty awesome.”