Twice as nice

For the second straight year, Kauai’s Pierce Murphy is an All-American and national champion.

The 2011 Island School graduate finished 35th in the men’s 10k race last Saturday to help the Colorado Buffaloes earn their second straight cross country NCAA title at LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“I felt good, everybody felt good,” Murphy said. 

The University of Colorado junior finished in 30 minutes, 51.7 seconds, good for 35th place. The top 40 earn medals.

“I’m stoked,” Murphy said of repeating as an All-American. “I was hoping I would.”

The Buffaloes dominated the team competition. 

Their winning score of 65 points was the lowest since 2005, when Wisconsin won with 37 points. Stanford had 98 points for second place and Portland was third with 175.  

Junior Ammar Moussa led CU, finishing in 30:29.6 for fifth place. Sophomore Ben Saarel was seventh (30:30.7) and senior Blake Theroux was ninth (30:31.3). Junior Connor Winter — who visited Kauai this summer and ran with Murphy — was 24th (30:45.0), followed closely by Murphy.

It was Colorado’s fifth men’s national championship under coach Mark Wetmore, who came on board in 2001. 

“This is probably our best team ever,” he said.

Wetmore told Murphy and his teammates to try and be in the top 30 coming through the first half of the race. The early pace on the muddy course on a cold, cloudy day was slower than expected, Murphy said, but he worked his way through the field and charged hard in the final miles.

“The last two kilometers were fast,” he said. 

He was pleased with his performance and is proud to be part of the Buffaloes national title team for the second year.

“This was probably our best team,” he said.

Murphy is the son of Shawn and Doreen Murphy of Kilauea. Both, along with their daughter Jade, flew to Indiana for the national race.

“I’ve always told Pierce if he enjoys running, to keep on running, and that it will take him as far as he wants to go,” Shawn Murphy said. “Both my wife and I couldn’t be more proud of Pierce’s achievements and how humble he handles it all. Pierce has never complained once about what has been asked of him, athletically or scholastically.”

 Pierce Murphy will take a break for a few weeks before resuming training for the indoor track season. The 5k, 3.1 miles, is a favorite distance.

“I might be better at the 10k,” he said, laughing. “But the 5k is shorter so there’s less pain.”

Murphy will return to Kauai for Christmas break and will be getting in some training runs on the island before returning to Colorado in early January.

“It’s always good to get back home,” he said.

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