For Hyatt, athletic road leads to Western Carolina

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   Dobyns-Bennett track and field standout Morgan Hyatt has gone from top cat in the Class AAA discus and shot put to being a Catamount.
   The state champion and Elizabethton resident recently singed a track and field scholarship with Western Carolina University.
   Hyatt knew the moment she walked on the Cullowhee, N.C. campus that it was the place for her.
   "They have a good program," Hyatt said. "It's not too far away from home, but it's close enough to where I can grow up. But I knew when I went up there for my visit I was going to school there."
   Hyatt also had offers from UNC-Asheville and Central Florida, but she thought Western Carolina would present a good challenge for her.
   Hyatt says she wants to be pushed, and thinks the program there will accomplish that.
   "The track program at Western is Division I, and is in the Southern Conference," Hyatt said. "I wanted to have a challenge where I had to push myself, and I knew I was going to be pushed."
   Hyatt definitely has the ability to succeed in college. This year, she didn't lose one time in either the discus or shot put.
   Despite these achievements, East Tennessee State University didn't really knock on her doorstep. But Hyatt had no problem with the snub, because she wanted to leave home anyway.
   "For me ETSU was too close to home," Hyatt said. "I didn't feel any resentment toward the program or the coaching staff. I just wanted to go away and get out of the Tri-Cities."
   It's been a busy last couple of months for the Hyatt family. Morgan's mother, Kim Hyatt, was recently named the head volleyball coach at Milligan College.
   Morgan played volleyball for her mom at Dobyns-Bennett, but the younger Hyatt knew playing volleyball in college was not an option.
   "I knew I didn't want to play volleyball in college," Hyatt said. "We both agreed that I needed to get away from her coaching me."
   Hyatt also played basketball at Dobyns-Bennett for three years before giving that up. Hyatt knew once she did that, track and field was going to be her ticket to college.
   "I knew when I quit playing basketball that I wanted to pursue track and field," Hyatt said. "Playing three sports, I couldn't put forth the effort that was needed. If you decide to do something, you have to do it to the best of your ability."
   Hyatt definitely performed to the best of her ability recently at the TSSAA state track meet. When Hyatt won the Class AAA shot put, she joined Elizabethton High standout Tara Benfield as Elizabethton's two state shot put champions.
   "I think it's somewhat unique," Hyatt said. "I think we both stayed focused. It just shows there are good female athletes in Elizabethton. It's a great thing that we both live there. We've got one that goes to Elizabethton High school, but we've also got one that resides there and goes to church there. It's a great thing for the city of Elizabethton."
   Hyatt has high aspirations for her college career, including qualifying for the NCAA's.
   Hyatt doesn't know if she can accomplish that, but she's going to try her best.
   "I want to qualify for the NCAA's," Hyatt said. "But until I'm on the collegiate track and field scene, I won't know if it's reachable. I have the desire, but I don't know if I have the ability. I'm just going to perform to the best of my ability, and not let anything outside of track distract me."
   Hyatt has had a storied high school athletic career, and she has a lot of people to thank for it.
   Hyatt believes a lot of people have influenced her life, but her biggest inspiration comes from a higher power.
   "I thank my coaches, I thank my parents, but most of all I thank God for helping me make the right decisions," Hyatt said. "I know I couldn't succeed without Christ."