Hayden Morris wins nation cornhole title

·3 min read

Aug. 10—Hayden Morris made history at a national cornhole tournament and brought hardware back home to Oklahoma.

The Hartshorne sophomore became the first Oklahoman to win the USA Cornhole Junior National Championship after taking a big win Saturday that was broadcast on ESPN. He said getting ready for an interview on national TV after the win was almost more nerve-racking than that game.

"The camera was right here," Hayden said with a laugh and holding his hand in front of his face.

"But it was exciting," he added. "As soon as it was over and I walked off the stage, there were like 30 people over there and I was just like 'let's go!'"

The eight-day event included pro tournaments and other competitions, with Hayden's doubles team advancing to the main bracket in a best-of-three series tournament.

Hayden then opened the junior singles on Thursday winning all six of his round-robin matches to take the top seed in the main bracket.

"I was feeling pretty confident," Hayden said. "Once you go 3-0, you're going to play someone else who's 3-0, so once I got to 3-0, I played three really, really good people. So once I beat them I thought 'I can make it out of this.'"

Meanwhile, Hayden also played Friday in the advanced singles with a loss in the first game before winning seven consecutive and finishing fifth overall.

He said the opening loss in the advanced singles started slow but he gained confidence and nearly finished the comeback to help him focus moving forward.

"I wasn't fully focused on the game and wasn't completely locked in," Hayden said. "I got focused and came back in the first one before I lost."

Hayden said that experience helped him stay locked in on Saturday in the final junior national final.

He jumped out to a 19-9 lead and needed a four-bagger to clinch the championship after his opponent's last stopped hanging on the edge.

"I was like 'if I just keep putting bags in the hole, there's nothing he can really do and once I get a miss I can finish and win,'" Hayden said.

Hayden said he started competing with his brother, Magnum, in a blind-draw tournament league at the J.I. Stipe Center in McAlester almost two years ago.

He said they showed up using their normal bags despite seeing professional bags used at the league — then Magnum finished second overall so they wanted to keep going back.

They upgraded their bags a few months later and started getting more competitive.

The Morrises then started competing at regional tournaments in the Oklahoma Cornhole Association and worked their way up from the intermediate divisions.

"Once we started placing higher, like first and second, we moved up to competitive, which is right under the top division," Hayden said. "We started doing better and better in competitive and went to the top division in advanced. It was tough up there because we realized we couldn't miss."

Hayden said the brothers practice for hours every day in the shop at their home — and got competitive with each other in some practice rounds.

"I've seen them come back to the house mad," his dad, Chris Morris said with a laugh.

Hayden thanked friends, family and sponsors for their support during his journey to the big stage.

He said cornhole professionals Jacob Foreman, Matthew Creekkiller, and Dillon Turpin also played an integral role in preparing him for the national tournament.

Hayden will next compete in the OCA State Championships this weekend. He held a top-5 ranking before missing one tournament that led him to being ranked 22nd in the state.

His finish in the top 30 qualified him for an additional single-elimination tournament called Oklahoma's Best.

So would he want to win either of those more than the other?

"Probably the state championship," Hayden said with a pause. "But I want to win both."

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com