Written by John Antonik
The nation's top miler in 1972, distance runner Morgan "Mike" Mosser easily ranks as one of West Virginia University's greatest athletes. Born February 19, 1950, in Washington, Pa., Mosser was a multi-sport standout at East Washington and Washington High Schools in the late 1960s.
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He decided to take up track during his senior year and his coach at Washington High School, Dave Johnson, convinced WVU track coach Stan Romanoski to give Mosser a scholarship. Mosser turned down a baseball scholarship at Thiel College to give track a try at WVU. Winning more than 50 meets during his Mountaineer career, that proved to be a wise decision.
Mosser earned a spot on the cross country team in the fall of 1969 and participated on the Mountaineers' NCAA national team. He held the No. 4 spot on the team and appeared to be just an average college runner. That was until the beginning of the indoor track season the following winter.
Running for the first time ever on an indoor track in his initial collegiate track meet, Mosser defeated WVU's top runner Carl Hatfield in the 1,000-yard run. And Hatfield was no slouch either. He had just come off of an All-America season in cross country and then ranked as the top distance runner in WVU annals.
The confidence Mosser received from that meet was immeasurable. In just one year, he trimmed an amazing 30 seconds off his high school time and became one of the nation's premier milers as a sophomore. Placing sixth at the NCAA championships in the mile with a time of 4:03.5, he bettered that mark by two places as a junior. He also finished third in the NCAA indoor meet at 1,000 yards with a time of 2:08.7.
As a senior in 1972, he won the 1,000-yard NCAA indoor title at Cobo Arena in Detroit, becoming WVU's first national champion in track. A former NCAA record holder in the 1,000 with a time of 2:06.9, he was a four-time All-American in track and a four-time NCAA qualifier in cross country. More than 30 years after he last competed, Mosser still owns or shares four school records.
He qualified for the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 800 meters and barely missed the U.S. Olympic team. In fact, his qualifying time of 1:46.8 was just two seconds slower than U.S. team member Dave Wottle, who won the Olympic event at Munich with a time of 1:44.8.
Also in 1972 Mosser was invited to participate in the nationally televised Martin Luther King Freedom Games "Dream Mile" that featured the return of Olympian Jim Ryun in his bid to challenge the world's No. 1-ranked miler Marty Liquori of Villanova. Liquori won the race, but Mosser led at the half-mile mark.
Mosser joined the ITA professional track tour in 1973, signing a contract that paid him an $800 signing bonus plus traveling expenses and prize money. Long before the days of corporate sponsorships and lucrative shoe contracts, Mosser also had to work for U.S. Steel while competing professionally on the weekends. A member of the ITA Tour until it disbanded in 1975, Mosser was ineligible to participate in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1976 because of his professional status.
Since culminating his track career, Mosser has worked in the area's mining industry. He and his wife Nancy currently reside in Morgantown with their son Ryan and daughter Kate.