Baker signs to continue studies, track career at C-N

Morristown East’s Marlee Baker, seated center, signed on Monday morning to continue her education and track career at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City. Seated with Marlee from left are her parents Amy Baker and Josh Baker. Standing from left are Morristown East athletic director Morgane Watkins, sister Lilah Baker, East track and field director Derrick Folsom, Caleb Ingram, East track and cross country coach Sammy McConeghey and brother Max Baker.

Marlee Baker didn’t need long to transition after moving to Morristown before her junior year of high school.

And her transition to college might be even easier.

On Monday morning, Baker officially signed with her top-choice institution to continue her studies along with her track and field career — Carson-Newman University.

“It’s close to home and I’ve had so many friends who went there before and they told me so many good things about it,” Baker said. “I just knew it was the perfect fit for me.”

A visit to the Mossy Creek campus proved her instincts to be right as Baker quickly bonded with the C-N coaching staff and track team members.

One face-to-face discussion with the coaching staff later, Baker knew she was in the right place.

“Just a really good school centered around faith and God and I like that, and I truly love the coaches and how much they said they were invested in me,” Baker said.

Another factor in Baker’s decision was her love for Young Life and her desire to be a leader in the club, and Carson-Newman presented her such an opportunity.

She intends to study education at C-N with goals of becoming a teacher.

Baker had experienced success before arriving at Morristown East, earning top five finishes in the pole vault at the Kentucky state meet as a freshman and a sophomore, during which she also placed third in the indoor state meet.

While Baker has participated in multiple events for East High the past two seasons, pole vaulting has remained her primary focus and will continue to do so at Carson-Newman.

Having placed eighth at indoor sectionals, Baker also claimed first place in pole vaulting during the IMAC championships.

On top of that, she now holds the IMAC pole vault record with a height of 9’6 which she set her junior season.

“It was hard at first but East has been very good to me,” Baker said. “The teachers and coaching staff, they’re what got me where I am.”

Also in 2018, Baker posted personal records of 3:00.09 in the 800-meter run, 20.64 in the 100-meter hurdles, 53.72 in the 300-meter hurdles, 23’ 3.5 in the shot put, 4’4 in the high jump, 13’ 2.75 in the long jump and a pentathlon score of 1,700 during outdoor season.

In the pole vault, Baker’s 2019 PRs stand at 9’ 1.5 during indoor season and 9’0 in outdoor competition.

“All the years I’ve coached we’ve not had a girl pole vault here at East, so having her here in the last two years has been a blessing for the Hurricane family,” East High track and field director Derrick Folsom said. “She knew what she wanted to do, so it made my life a little easier. Everything she does, she does well.”