SERGEANT BLUFF – Max Murphy did not have the state track meet he wanted, but he is not sitting around thinking about what could have been.
The Sergeant Bluff-Luton senior-to-be entered state as one of the top hurdlers in Class 3A only to have issues during both the 110- and 400-meter hurdle races leaving him in the back of the field. However, this summer, for the first time, Murphy is busy running competitively and the results have been impressive.
“It is a humbling experience to be honest,” he said. “You are ranked pretty high and you do bad and you realize you have so much to work on and improve on to get to the next step. I think it has been a definite positive for me to sit back and look at what I need to do.
“It hit me hard the first couple weeks (after state) but I got back on the track and I am past it now. I can look forward now to the next season.”
He ran the 110 and 400 hurdles at the USA Track & Field Region 8 meet in Ames last weekend finishing third in the 110 hurdles and second in the 400. That effort was good enough to qualify him for the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina which begin Monday.
“When I first started I did not expect to qualify to run down in North Carolina to be honest with you,” he said. “I surprised myself with that. I just focused.
“It is going to be a lot of fun and the competition is going to be really, really good so it will be a fun experience for me.”
Murphy also plans to run in the AAU Junior Olympic Games at Drake University in Des Moines July 28-Aug. 4 in the 110 hurdles. His goal is to make the finals in both races, which would mean he would need to be in the top eight in a field.
Murphy said the meets have given him a different challenge to try to raise his level each time out.
“It is way different because there are teams from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, not just Iowa, so it is fun getting to race different people in different places,” he said. “It helps you get used to racing against good competition every meet and trying to work on improving.”
Murphy said all the hard work has him feeling “in shape and good” with his biggest races on the horizon.
Hurdle events can be a tough draw for some runners, but Murphy has been clearing them since the seventh grade consistently improving each year.
“When I was in middle school I wasn’t fast enough for any of the sprints so I had to find something where I could get an advantage,” he said. “I just always fell in love with hurdles and figured out the technique and grew into my body.”
Murphy did not run his first varsity hurdle event until a district meet his freshman year in the shuttle hurdle relay. He had the best split of any Warrior on the squad and that set him on his current path.
Like any successful hurdler, Murphy said it is all about his steps to secure a strong run.
“It is always the steps because the first hurdle I try to get there in seven steps, and if I hit that mark then I feel good the rest of the race,” said Murphy, who credits his SB-L coaches Monte Larsen and Heath Ter Wee for helping him improve. “I started weightlifting only the past couple of years, but I can already tell a difference and it definitely helps.”
Although Murphy is racing individually this summer he counts the shuttle hurdle relay as his favorite hurdle event to run because he gets to compete with his teammates. It is something he thinks the Warriors can excel in next season while he also has an eye on an improved individual showing at state.
“For the 110 hurdles I want to break the school record which is a 14.64 (seconds) and win state,” said Murphy, who has a personal best of 14.86. “For shuttle hurdle I think our team has a great chance to win state in that too.”