After the Oregon women claimed their fourth NCAA championship title in a huge upset last Saturday, the distance program is already in the works of building on their depth to keep their championship hopes alive for the future.
The first woman of the recruiting class of 2017 is high school senior Kate Murphy. The Lake Braddock student made headlines last season when she reached the semifinals of the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials in the 1,500 meters.
Murphy said Oregon had been on her radar since sophomore year, and it had been a toss-up between Oregon and Villanova. Ultimately, the appeal of the west coast, along with Oregon’s deep history of the Olympians that it had produced, won Murphy over.
“Oregon is the place I’d want to be,” the Virginia native said. “Tracktown USA is just different. They have a supportive running culture as compared to other places where they don’t know running as much.”
Murphy holds a personal record of 4 minutes, 7.21 seconds in the 1,500 meters, 4:42.31 in the mile and 10:33.93 in the two mile event.
In her hometown of Burke, Virginia, the only trail in the vicinity is the 4.5 mile Burke Lake Trail, where the team has to drive to if they want to run there. Eugene, on the other hand, boasts a four mile long Pre’s Trail that is just a stone’s throw from the UO campus. Additionally, there are other trails such as the Amazon Trail within running distance of campus.
Another factor that had attracted Murphy to Oregon’s athletic program was her close relationship with associate coach Maurica Powell, who Murphy described as a genuine person.
“It makes a big difference,” Murphy said. “It can really benefit your running.”
Murphy said she and Powell had known each other since the summer going into her junior year, and they have known each other for a little over a year.
Alumni are sharing in Murphy’s joy of joining the Ducks as well.
— Alexi Pappas (@AlexiPappas) October 14, 2016
Previously, Murphy said she only knew Pappas as a really fast runner and a really cool person. Last year, Pappas went to Virginia for a road race, where the two met each other for the first time.
“I don’t talk to her that often, but whenever I see her, I think that’s pretty cool getting to know the Oregon alumni,” Murphy said.
Last summer, she represented the U.S. at the IAAF World U20 Championships in the 3,000 meter event, where she finished 17 seconds behind current Oregon freshman Katie Rainsberger. Murphy said her friendship with Rainsberger was another factor that drew her to signing with the Ducks.
The next race on Murphy’s schedule is the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland on Dec. 3, where she placed third last year. If her schedule allows her to, she said she may squeeze in a trip down to Eugene.
Follow Romaine Soh on Twitter @mainetainpls