EUGENE, Ore. — After finishing second overall in the preliminaries, Tri-Village alumnus Clayton Murphy finished 11th in the nation in the 1,500-meter run at the U.S. Outdoor Junior Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Oregon.
The USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships feature the best athletes in the country younger than 20 years old, including high school and college athletes, competing at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.
“It was pretty sweet,” Murphy said.
Advice from University of Akron teammate Trevor Norris, who ran at last year’s junior nationals, and his college coach helped Murphy prepare for the national meet, where he controlled his preliminary race to start the weekend.
Murphy won his heat and ran the second-best qualifying time in the 1,500 meters Saturday at the national meet as he finished in 3:56.91, making him one of 12 competitors to qualify for Sunday’s final. Of the 18 runners in the preliminaries, only eventual-national champion Patrick Joseph of Virginia Tech beat the son of Mark and Melinda Murphy as Joseph crossed the finish line in 3:52.05 in the other heat.
In the finals of the 1,500 meters, Murphy finished in 3:59.13 to place 11th at the U.S. Outdoor Junior Track & Field Championships.
Murphy got bumped around in the finals, he said, and just didn’t have any energy left to make a move.
“It’s been a long season,” he said. “I just didn’t have the legs like I usually do.”
This was the second consecutive year that a Darke County runner made the finals of the 1,500-meter run at the U.S. Outdoor Junior Track & Field Championships. Last year Versailles alumnus Sam Prakel, who now competes at the University of Oregon, finished third in the 1,500 meters at the national meet with a time of 3:46.93.
Murphy recently completed his freshman season for Akron, where he competed on the cross country and track and field teams.
During his freshman season, the 2013 Tri-Village graduate won the Mid-American Conference championship in the mile at the league’s indoor meet and the 1,500 meters at the league’s outdoor meet. He also was named second team all-MAC in cross country.
Murphy has a couple weeks off before he starts training with the Zips’ cross country team for the upcoming season. He’s adjusted well to the college atmosphere, he said, and has become close with his college coaches and teammates.
The Zips have a young team, Murphy said, but also have a lot of big-meet experience and are looking to win the MAC cross country championship and advance to the NCAA nationals.
For more information on the U.S. Outdoor Junior Track & Field Championships including complete results, visit USA Track & Field’s website at www.usatf.org.