East Xtra: Riverview's Murphy hurdles his way to a state title

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Riding a wave of success going into the PIAA Class AA track and field championships this past weekend at Shippensburg University, Riverview junior hurdler Tyler Murphy didn't take anything for granted.

He knew that he was going to have to dig deep in order to have a chance to win a coveted gold medal in the demanding 300-meter hurdles event.

"I saw it as an opportunity to showcase some of the hard preparation that I've put in since last [summer]," he said.

Murphy bested his competition in the 300-meter hurdles on Saturday at Seth Grove Stadium on the campus of Shippensburg University to win the race with a time of 38.66 seconds.

That time was the best that he'd recorded all year long.

"Really, I've come to a loss of words about it," Riverview hurdlers coach Barbara Stewart said. "I'm absolutely speechless about what Tyler has accomplished. It's just a great feeling."

For his part, Murphy attributed much of his success to Stewart, who is a native of South Africa.

"She knows exactly when she needs to pull certain things out of me," Murphy said. "But she also is nurturing in a sense. She knows when to hold me back when I'm hurt or when I may need anything throughout the course of a workout or meet."

Stewart feels that it was Murphy's willingness to put in extra time throughout the season to improve his game.

"There are many times in which Tyler will go through our regular practices and he will take it upon himself to practice in the evenings," Stewart said. "He really takes what he's doing seriously. He eats it, sleeps it and breathes it.

"That's why he's gotten so good."

Standing at around 6 feet tall, Murphy improved his time of 38.89 seconds that won him gold at the WPIAL championship meet on May 16 at Baldwin High School.

He also participated on Riverview's 1,600-meter relay team that finished 15th in the state this year.

Robert Morris University is already taking a serious recruiting look at the 11th grader.

He also competed in the United States Track and Field Association Junior Olympics last summer in Baltimore, where he took seventh place in the 300 hurdles.

"That was a tough preparation in its own right," Murphy said. "I knew it was going to be tough going down there and facing those guys.

"I'm glad that I worked as hard as I did, because it really helped my efforts in states this year."

As it pertains to what he's done during the regular season, Stewart vouches that Murphy stays steadfast to improving his community through his accomplishments.

"When he's here at Riverview, he's truly a gift to the community," she said. "He's upbeat. He's positive. He's a true representation of what it means to be a team guy."

His response when asked indicated that there is truth to Stewart's notion.

"Our baseball team recently fell short in their [WPIAL] run," Murphy responded when asked what was the best thing about taking states.

"[The best thing] was knowing that I could give good news to everyone who had texted me 'Bring home the gold.' And it felt good to do that and bring it back to Riverview."

He plans to compete in the Junior Olympics again this year in Greensboro, N.C. He won't have much time to rest.

His first USATF meet will be this Saturday and the championship series will kick off June 22.

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