When Anna Murdock arrived at Franklin College, she had a single athletic purpose: track and field.
Sure, she competed in it at Indian Creek High School and enjoyed moderate success, but it was more of an aside than a passion.
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She had no intention of continuing in college.
Four years later, much has changed.
Murdock wound up being a two-sport athlete, after all. But she was — or rather, is — something more than that.
By the time she graduates in May with a degree in business, she will be one of the most — if not the most — accomplished cross-country/track athlete in Franklin history.
Already, she’s among the best the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference has ever seen.
A four-year standout in both sports, Murdock ushered in her senior year by winning the HCAC cross-country championship.
Last month, she led the Grizzlies to the team title of the HCAC Indoor Track and Field Championships and, in the process, earned the league’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year honor.
Earlier this week, she qualified for the first time for Division III Indoor National Track and Field Championships — an achievement that, in many ways, brought her career full circle.
That unprecedented achievement added to a sparkling resume highlighted by two nods as the HCAC’s Most Valuable Track Athlete and two straight berths in the NCAA Division III Outdoor National Track and Field Championships.
A two-time HCAC Most Valuable Track Athlete, she is also a two-time Division III Outdoor National Track and Field qualifier — and is an odds-on favorite to make it three times when the outdoor season gets underway in a few weeks.
“I knew my senior year would definitely be special,” said Murdock, who now has the rare distinction of being a conference MVP in two sports and national qualifier for indoor and outdoor track.
“Coming into college I didn’t think I’d ever run cross-country, and then my senior year I win the conference meet at cross-country and become MVP,” she said. “And then (at the) indoor conference, I win two events and MVP.
“So I’m trying to keep that momentum going and just trying to do the best I can and make the most of the opportunity because it’s almost over.”
The “it” is her college career, which resumes Friday at the indoor nationals in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Murdock, one of 17 finalists in the 800-meter run, is bidding to reach Saturday’s championship finals. She has the nation’s seventh-fastest qualifying time (2:13.78) heading into Friday’s preliminaries, which consists of two heats. The two fastest runners in each heat and the next four runners with the fastest preliminary times heats will compete.
Although he makes no predictions, Paul Sargent, the Grizzlies’ head cross-country and track coach, likes Murdock’s chances of reaching the finals — if for no other reason because she hates to lose.
“She’s extremely competitive, and we saw that from the get-go,” said Sargent, who recruited Murdock at Indian Creek. “Regardless of the event, she doesn’t like to get beat. And she’s blessed with great speed. She’s a cross-country champion, as well. That’s rare.
“We were fortunate to get her. She had good coaching in high school. She just has grown up a lot.”
An honors student who has battled injuries and illness in recent years, Murdock declares herself healthy for nationals and is confident of a speedy result.
“I definitely feel really good,” she said. “ I was here (on campus) for winter term. The last few years I did some traveling, but having my coach help train me along and have the trainers help me be as healthy as I can be, I definitely feel on top of my game.
“Being a senior, I do have experience. I’ve been to nationals before, so I know what to expect.”
Name: Anna Murdock
College: Franklin College
Sports: Track and field, cross-country
High school: Indian Creek (2011)
2014-15 highlights: Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference country champion; NCAA Division III Indoor Track and and Field Championships qualifier in the 800-meter run; U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Academic All-American
2013-14 highlights: First Team All-HCAC in cross-country; HCAC Most Valuable Track Athlete; qualified for the Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 800-meter run; selected to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team.
2012-13 highlights: First Team All-HCAC in cross–country; qualified for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 800-meter run; HCAC Most Valuable Track Athlete; USTFCCCA All-Academic Team.
2011-12 highlights: All-HCAC honorable mention in cross-country; First Team All-HCAC in track and field; USTFCCCA All-Academic Team.
Major: International business and business management
Parents: Roger and Barbara Murdock