Casey Morgan, bodybuilder

Thursday, January 9, 2003

There is a difference between weightlifters and bodybuilders. Weightlifters lift weights for a couple hours a day; bodybuilders think about lifting weights all hours of the day.

Casey Morgan would qualify as the latter. Morgan, 27, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with his second bachelor's degree and is working as a nurse in Sikeston. His career appears to be just part-time in comparison to his job as a bodybuilder, which requires around-the-clock attention.

Morgan got his first taste of the weight room while competing in sports at Kelly High School. The scent, the feel, and everything else about the weight room stuck with him as he entered college. It's there where he gained interest in bodybuilding.

"I was really getting to the point that I needed a goal to stay in shape," he said. "A reason to get into the gym each day."

Over the past three years his eyes turned to competition. He participated in the Mr. Missouri and the Show Me Naturals and recently broke through with his first top-five finish in the Battle in the Bluff, where he won first place overall in the junior lightweight division.

"I don't really get that nervous when I am up there," Morgan said. "The focus and concentration on your routine is so great that you don't have time to get nervous."

Bodybuilding certainly isn't all fun and games though. Competitors spend countless hours in the gym and eat six to eight times a day.

"You don't cheat yourself in the sport," Morgan said. "Some people don't understand. We go into the weight room to work."

The work continues outside of the weight room, with the concentration on eating every three hours and consuming nearly 3,500 to 4,000 calories a day, difficult considering Morgan sometimes works 12 hour days.

"It's tough. When I first started I didn't realize it but fitness, bodybuilding and being healthy is about 75 percent nutrition and only 25 percent training," he said.

The change to a bodybuilding diet was a challenge.

"It was kind of hard eating healthy food as opposed to fast food three times a day," Morgan said.

He is a member of the Southeast Missouri State University bodybuilding team. The team provides support and motivation for competitors to reach their goals.

"We just started last year and we try to make it to each other's shows," he said "It's nice to have guys with the same goals. Bodybuilding is tough to do by yourself. With the team, we always have somebody to help."

Morgan competes on the natural side of bodybuilding and plans to go as far it will take him.

"It feels pretty good, a lot of people don't like us -- they don't understand," he said. "We are always on machines. We are kind of loud, banging weights around. I just try to do what I have to do, keep people out of my way and stay out of other people's way."

Morgan plans to compete next in Rockford, Ill., in May.

-- David Unterreiner

To suggest an area recreational athlete or team for "The spotlight," write to Southeast Missouian, Sports, Dept., P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702, or e-mail sports@semissourian.com, or fax to (573) 334-7288. "The spotlight" appears on Thursdays and Sundays.

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