Ute Jade Mulvey during the steeplechase the McCarthey Track and Field Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Apr. 7, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

One Ute has qualified to represent the University of Utah track and field team at the 2017 NCAA Championships that will take place this week. After recording a school-record time of 10:04.35 in the 3000-meter steeplechase during the NCAA West Preliminary, junior Grayson Murphy is ready to finish the season strong.

“We put together a great race plan going into the preliminary rounds,” said head coach Kyle Kepler. “She knows what she can do and what she needs to do. The preliminary round was just a check box on the list, and she ran a personal best without even trying too.”

Murphy is scheduled to run in the first semifinal race on Thursday, June 8 that is scheduled to begin at 6:02 p.m. MT. The semifinals will consist of three heats with the top racer from each heat advancing, as well as the next three best times from each heat will move on. 12 runners will compete in the finals that will take place Saturday, June 10 at 4:54 p.m. MT.

“She’s going to compete,” Kepler said. “She’s not afraid. She’s as good as anyone in the race and focused on each race and has consistently gotten better throughout the year. I would expect a top five finish out of Grayson.”

Success and the big stage isn’t rarity for Murphy. She will be competing in her third NCAA Championships while in her first year at Utah. Murphy leads the Utes in the 2016 Cross Country Championships where she finished No. 53 overall. She also earned second-team All-America honors in the 5,000-meter run after finishing No. 15 at the 2017 Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“I’m focused on the task at hand,” Murphy said. “I know I need to give the event the respect it deserves, and I recognize that it is the Championships, but to me, it’s just another race. I don’t want to have tunnel vision just because it’s for the Championship. I’m going to stay consistent. I know it’s an important event, but I don’t need to change anything in how I train or run.”

After competing for two seasons in outdoor track and cross country at Santa Clara, Murphy made the decision to transfer to Utah. In just one short year at Utah, Murphy has set school records in not only the 3000-meter steeplechase but also in the 5000-meter run, both indoor and outdoor.

“She comes every day ready to go,” Kepler said. “We usually need to motivate other athletes to get going, but with Grayson, we need to try to slow her down. She needs no motivation, she’s got plenty of that on her own.”

With all the records that Murphy has set in her short career at Utah, she’s most proud of are the things that she has been able to learn.

“I have a lot more confidence in my abilities,” Murphy said. I’ve learned what it means to relax and to have fun. Through running double races, I’ve found how tough I am and how strong I am, physically and mentally. Most importantly, I’ve learned that running doesn’t define me. As much as I want to win, I know that I am so much more than just a runner, and there’s so much more to look forward to.”

Having a chance to compete for the championship isn’t what excites Murphy the most about this meet. What she’s most looking forward to is that for the first time in her collegiate career, her family will be able to attend, not only to give her support, but they will finally get to see her run.

s.funk@dailyutahchronicle.com

@scottfunk0

Scott Funk is currently interning as a sports writer for The Daily Utah Chronicle. He completed an internship with Cumulus Media before writing for The Globe at Salt Lake Community College. He also recently completed an internship with ESPN 700.

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