The lone Ute to represent the University of Utah track and field team at the 2017 NCAA Track and Field Championships closed out the season on Saturday. Junior Grayson Murphy completed the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:53.66 to finish No. 5 overall.
“Her story is amazing,” said head coach Kyle Kepler. “She’s not one of those girls who grew up running. She played soccer first in college, and then started running at Santa Clara. Then she transferred here mainly for the PhD program for engineering, with running not even as her focus. To come from that, and now an All-American and the fifth best in the country is something that’s hard to put into words. She was consistent all year, had a new personal best of more than 10 seconds and gave her best effort. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Murphy opened the competition on Thursday night in the semi-final round of the event. Murphy qualified for the finals after placing third in her heat with a new personal best of 9:53.04, beating her previous best time by over 10 seconds (10:04.35).
“I really had no idea that I was running that fast,” Murphy said. “I was at a comfortable pace with the group that I was with knowing all I needed to do was place in the top 5, and when I saw the time at the end, that was just a bonus excitement for me.”
After qualifying on Thursday, Murphy had Friday off, before she was scheduled to race on the final day of the competition. All of her hours of practice and preparation got her through the semi’s and to the finals, and she was grateful to have the opportunity to be there.
“I was most nervous about the semi-finals,” Murphy said. “Going into that race was when I had all the nerves and jitters and was struggling focusing, but going into the championship, I was calm and just happy to be there. I knew that I had accomplished a lot throughout the year so I just wanted to go out there and run how I knew I could, enjoy it and have fun.”
Murphy also earned first-team All-America honors for the first time in her career and the first for Utah since Amanda Mergaert acquired that title back in 2013 in the 1,500 meters.
“To be an All-American is a great honor for me,” Murphy said. “Obviously, the goal for everyone is to take first, but for me, I really wanted to start by becoming an All-American. Having that title is the highest-level accomplishment you can have as an individual college athlete. To have that title makes me really proud of myself and tells me how physically and mentally strong I really am.”
Up next for Murphy, she is deciding whether or not she wants to compete at the USA Track and Field Championships that will take place in Sacramento from June 23-25.
“Right now, I just want to focus on recovering and getting back to full strength both mentally and physically,” Murphy said. “I’d love to compete at the USA’s, but I also don’t want to put myself at risk for the cross-country season. I feel like we can do something great as a team, and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that, but no matter what, I’ll train smart, continue to be consistent and I’m looking forward to next year.”