There is no such thing as the perfect senior year, though Anna Murdock gave it a good run.
Murdock’s final months at Franklin College proved rewarding athletically and academically as the Indian Creek High School graduate flourished in cross-country and track while maintaining a 3.49 grade-point average.
“It’s almost like a textbook senior year. The kind you dream of,” said Murdock, 22, who has graduated and is in her second week as membership development manager at the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.
The highest of many high points came in May when Murdock won the national championship in the 800-meter run at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Canton, N.Y.
This distinction alone makes Murdock the first Grizzlies athlete to bring home an individual NCAA championship.
Also, Murdock is one of 480 female student-athletes nominated for the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, which combines athletics, academics and leadership qualities both on campus and in the community.
Nomination alone represents triumph.
“Oh, absolutely. The purpose of that whole program is to highlight that across the country we have so many who have done amazing things,” Franklin College athletics director Kerry Prather said.
“From our standpoint, we constantly preach the opportunity to have an all-of-the-above experience, and Anna was involved in a lot of things on campus. To me, she’s just the Division III success story.”
A 400-meter dash specialist in high school, Murdock won her share of races at Indian Creek but never was able to advance to the state finals.
At Franklin College, Murdock tapped into her vast potential, progressively building toward a senior year like few — if any — in the history of Grizzlies athletics.
The buzz that something special could be building began Nov. 1 when Murdock won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s individual cross-country title, completing Earlham College’s 6-kilometer course in 22 minutes, 22 seconds.
This from someone who considers herself a track athlete first.
“I won conference, so for something that’s not necessarily my strength I did pretty well,” Murdock said.
Murdock this school year alone was a D-III All-American in both indoor and outdoor track seasons, named HCAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Year and took home the Jenny Johnson-Kappes Award as Franklin College’s top female student-athlete.
Earlier this month Murdock spent five days in Bermuda as part of the XL Catlin Bermuda National Athletics Championships. She won the women’s 800-meter run in a time of 2:14.42, defeating, among others, runner-up Kyrah Scraders of Bermuda (2:19.53).
Of all Murdock accomplished at Franklin College, Prather will always remember the joy she exuded whether she was stretching before a run on campus or getting her breath back following one.
“To do what she did obviously takes a special level of commitment, and Anna embraced that,” he said. “She’s just a wonderful, wonderful young woman, and we’re extraordinarily proud of her.”