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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Rookie of the fall and spring

Bower throws javelin (Photo by Tom Connelly).

Morgan Bower tears up the track and turf

Most students struggle to balance school with a social life and a few extra-curricular activities. This is not the case for freshman Morgan Bower.

Bower was recruited to be a soccer player at St. Joe’s, and she just made her collegiate track debut. In her first meet, she broke the school record in the javelin with a throw of 136’ 11”. 

Women’s soccer head coach Jess Mannella and women’s track and field head coach Melody O’Reilly decided that Bower would join the track team by the end of last soccer season.

“I did track in high school, so it was always a possibility,” Bower said. “Once soccer started, I thought I had too much on my plate already, but then I talked to my coaches who talked me into it. I kind of knew I wanted to do it so they helped a lot. I like being busy.”

Bower earned Rookie of the Week honors twice in soccer and has already earned rookie of the week in track due to her record breaking performance. She also qualified for the Easter College Athletic Conference  outdoor track and field championships, to be held in May.

“I knew she would break the record eventually, I just didn’t think she would do it in her first meet,” O’Reilly said. “She’ll keep breaking her own record now.”

In her freshman soccer season, Bower was the team’s highest scorer with seven goals, tied with sophomore Gabrielle Vagnozzi, and she had two game winning goals. Bower’s soccer skills run in her family, as her sisters Madison and Maci are soccer players at La Salle University.  

Neither Mannella nor O’Reilly has seen a St. Joe’s Division I athlete compete in both track and soccer. Both coaches are working together to help Bower excel in athletics and also prevent her from being overworked. 

The NCAA prevents athletes from competing and practicing for more than 20 hours per week, so Bower splits that time between soccer and track.

“They [Mannella and O’Reilly] are always asking me if it’s too much, if I have enough time to do both or if I’m stressed out,” Bower said. “It takes a lot off my plate, because I don’t have to worry about if the coaches are ok with what I’m doing, so having them both on my side helps so much.”

Going from playing soccer to throwing javelin requires Bower to focus on different areas when she works out, but her natural athletic ability makes it possible. This is why she was able to break a program record in her first collegiate track meet.

“The best part of Morgan’s soccer game is how athletic, strong and fast she is,” Mannella said. “We knew she was good at the javelin, because throughout her high school career she did so well. It wasn’t surprising at all, even in her first meet. It was exciting to see.”

Her throwing ability also translates into her soccer game when it comes to taking throw-ins. The Hawks use her ability to throw the ball into the penalty box as an opportunity to make plays and score.

While her upper body strength that allows her to throw is important, the speed she brings to the soccer field is something that O’Reilly hopes can help on the track as well in the coming seasons.

“I would love to see if she can transition onto the track,” O’Reilly said. “She has really great 200 meter, 400-meter speed, and we’d love to benefit from that in our program. That’s when her soccer base would carry over.”

For now, Bower will focus on getting her feet in Division I javelin throwing and improving in both soccer and track with each season after making her mark as a rookie on both squads.

“It sets my own standards high, so I’ll have to try to prove myself better next year,” Bower said. “It allows me to have a starting point for my sophomore year and to know where I was in the beginning of my freshman year and see how far I’ve grown in both sports.”

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