Changing schools can be stressful and daunting, but for University of Utah cross country senior Grayson Murphy, who has attended three colleges in the past four years, change is as much a part of her personal identity as running is.
As someone who describes herself as not the most outgoing, Murphy said that each transition was not only a bit difficult in the sense that she was moving to a new place, but it was difficult to make new friends, too.
While attending schools in Virginia, California and Utah, one of the biggest challenges Murphy had to overcome was adapting to the changing weather patterns and how they affected her when it came to running. Murphy pushed through and combatted hard times by bearing down and focusing on the task at hand, which was being the best runner that she could possibly be.
Although the statistics don’t show it, the two-time track All-American only started running competitively when she entered the collegiate level. Raised as a soccer player, Murphy competed on a field, not a track, all throughout high school and one year of college.
Soccer burnt Murphy out, and that led to her putting her time and energy into the sport she now gets to compete in. The opportunity Murphy has to run isn’t something she takes for granted, and she said she is grateful for every day that she gets to do what she loves.
“Playing your sport shouldn’t feel like a chore,” Murphy said.
Based out of Salt Lake City, Murphy’s family was overjoyed when they found out that she would be returning home to attend Utah because they would be able to watch her run in person. According to her stepmother, Janine Murphy, the family serves as a constant source of motivation and support for Murphy, especially during the season.
“[We’re always] being supportive [of] her choices and keeping up the positive experience by always cheering her on,” Janine said.
Since becoming a student at the U, Grayson has begun to make her mark in the university record books, and as she heads into her final season she has goals to improve her times and placements in both cross country and track.
During her 2016 cross country campaign, Grayson finished in 12th place at the Pac-12 Championships to earn her second team All-Pac-12 honors to go along with her all-region honors from an 18th place finish at the Mountain Region Championships. To cap off her season, Grayson placed 53rd at the NCAA Championships where she was the lead runner for the Utes.
In addition to her cross country achievements, Grayson tore up the track in the spring with appearances in the NCAA Championships for both indoor and outdoor track where she set records, both personal and school, in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
The numbers are evidence of the impact Grayson had on the team during her first year at Utah, but she is looking forward to building on the groundwork that the team laid last year to improve and pick up right where it left off last season.
From switching schools multiple times to learning a new sport at a higher level, the civil engineering major wants to further her education with graduate school, but she also hopes to find a way to run post-collegiately. Although her time running as a student-athlete is winding down, running competitively continues to teach her more about who she is.
“I’m a lot stronger than I think,” Grayson said. “And I can push myself past mental barriers. I can do anything that I set my mind to.”