No matter the season, or her location, Anna Murdock is always on the run.
Or at the very least, she’s training to run.
Dead of winter or an ocean away from home, it doesn’t matter. The Franklin College junior steadfastly makes time to get better — literally — in the long run, which explains why she is one of the best 800-meter performers in NCAA Division III track and field.
A national qualifier last outdoor season, she is off to an even faster start in 2014 and is collecting school records, conference awards and confidence at breakneck speed.
“We expected some big things this year, and we’re seeing that,” said Paul Sargent, head coach of the Grizzlies’ men’s and women’s track teams and their men’s and women’s cross-country teams. “Her practices and her performances are showing that she’s ready to make that national berth again.”
Not just make, but place.
One of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s top distance runners throughout her three-year career, Murdock — a former standout at Indian Creek High School — expects to parlay last year’s postseason experience into a podium finish this time.
Murdock didn’t qualify for the finals of last year’s Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, but she is confident of doing so at this year’s May 22 through 24 event at Ohio Wesleyan University.
A year older, wiser and faster, she won’t be daunted this time.
“Going to nationals last year and not even making it (to the finals) definitely motivated me,” Murdock said. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because going to nationals is something you have to experience first. It can be overwhelming, knowing that you’re there with elite athletes.
“To just gain that experience and learning as a sophomore was really important, because now I know what I have to do to make it to the final round, to have the potential of being an All-American.”
So far, she is on pace to reach her goals.
Selected as last year’s HCAC Female Track Athlete of the Year, Murdock this week was named the conference’s Track Athlete of the Week and picked up arguably her most prestigious honor to date when she was tabbed the Female Track Athlete of the Meet at last weekend’s Indiana Division III Championships at DePauw University.
Murdock won the 800- and 1,500-meter runs and ran the anchor leg of Franklin’s winning 1,600 relay. She finished nearly five seconds ahead of her nearest challenge in the 800 and was six seconds ahead of the runner-up in the 1,500.
Moreover, her times in the 800 (2:23.0) and the 1,500 (5:04.26) were the fastest in the HCAC this season.
A few weeks earlier, she set a school record in the 400-meter run, even though it’s an event in which she seldom competes.
“Here’s a young lady who obviously at Indian Creek was leaned on a lot to do a lot of different things, and we’ve asked her to do some additional things as far as running multiple events and having to score in multiple events,” Sargent said. “Boy, she’s really stepped up and managed to do that.
“She goes out and does what she needs to do.”
Her production is no accident.
Also a standout on the Grizzlies’ women’s cross-country team, Murdock seldom, if ever, takes a hiatus. Whether in-season, offseason or traveling abroad for a winter internship, as she did in January in Germany, she makes time to train.
An honors student with a double major in international business and business management major, Murdock didn’t take a break in Germany and emailed Sargent daily updates about her workouts.
“She’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached; no question about it,” Sargent said. “She’s just grown into a leader and leads by word and example, which is exactly what you’re looking for.”
For Murdock, the extra work is worth effort. Although training overseas, while earning college credit for the internship, wasn’t the easiest thing, it was a necessary thing in pursuit of a podium finish at nationals.
“You always have to do things to get yourself better,” said Murdock, who plans another overseas internship next year. “I knew that my track season was really important. Training alone is really difficult, but I made the best of it. You hear that successful people do things they don’t want to, so that kind of pushed me to get out there and do what I had to do.
“I find myself in the weight room pushing myself, using heavier weight, just always going the extra mile or doing whatever I can, doing extra work, going beyond my expectations. Now that I have a taste of it, I just want it that much more.”
Name: Anna Murdock
Sports: Track and field, cross-country
High school: Indian Creek (2011); won Johnson County, sectional and Mid-Hoosier Conference championship in the 400-meter run her senior year and graduated in the top 10 of her class
Experience: Three-year standout in cross-country and indoor and outdoor track and field; was honorable mention All-HCAC in cross-country her freshman season and was named to the league’s All-Academic Team and was selected to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team; was first-team All-HCAC in track and field as a freshman; was named the HCAC Female Track Athlete of the Year as a sophomore and qualified for the NCAA Division III National Outdoor Track and Field Championships; was first team All-HCAC in cross country and was selected to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team.
Hobbies: Traveling with family, boating
Favorite movie: “The Proposal”
Parents: Roger and Barbara Murdock