Franklin’s Murdock one of a kind

If you’re a frequent, or even infrequent, visitor to this column, then you’ve read about Anna Murdock.

Quite a lot, actually.

Well, here’s more.

Although her career is over and all of her major accomplishments well-chronicled, they have not been put in perspective.

Now, they will be.

A 2015 graduate, Murdock recently concluded an unprecedented career at Franklin College that, in many ways, makes her the most accomplished athlete in school history.

She competed in two sports. She did it for four years. She was a conference MVP in each. She was a two-time All-American.

And two weeks ago, she became the school’s first and only national champion.

Talk about standing out in a crowd.

Franklin College has offered varsity sports for more than 100 years. It boasts the “Wonder Five” tradition and has produced a wealth of remarkable athletes throughout the decades, from Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Fuzzy Vandivier to football greats Terry Hoeppner and Steve Wray to track and field All-Americans Brad Epperson and Robyn Burns to national golf runner-up Katie Tewell.

All shined on a national stage. But none brighter, or longer, than Murdock.

A former standout at Indian Creek High School, she competed all four years at the college in cross-country and track. A middle-distances specialist, she literally led the pack throughout her career.

Murdock’s signature event was the 800-meter run. She was a three-time NCAA Division III Outdoor National Track and Field Championships qualifier in that race and earned All-American honors for it during the indoor and outdoor seasons her senior year.

But that wasn’t all she accomplished her final year at Franklin.

In the fall, she was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference MVP for cross-country. A few months later, she earned the same honor for the indoor track season. A few months after that, she did the same for the outdoor season.

No athlete in HCAC history has ever collected all three honors in the same year.

Moreover, she became the first track athlete in Franklin history be named All-American in the same year for indoor and outdoor track. She finished eighth in the 800 run at the indoor nationals and, on May 23, became a national champion by winning the 800 at the outdoor nationals.

Late last week, she picked up another honor when she was named the HCAC’s Female Athlete of the Year.

In short, Murdock won virtually anything and everything that could be won by a Division III track athlete. And she did it with uncanny consistency.

She never plateaued. She improved every year. And she literally saved her best for last.

On May 23, the same day she won the national championship, she graduated from Franklin College. She couldn’t attend commencement because she was at the nationals in Canton, New York. But on May 27, in a special ceremony on campus, she got to don a cap and gown and receive her diploma from school president James Moseley.

College’s don’t do those sorts of things for just anybody. That kind of honor is typically reserved for student-athletes who distinguish themselves, and by extension the school, in a truly special way.

Anna Murdock, one of Johnson County’s own, did it in a way like no other before her.

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Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2715.