Max Murphy ready to shine for Iowa

An Iowa state champion in cross country last year, the Bettendorf, Iowa, native is training hard for the track and field season.


Jenna Galligan

The Iowa men’s team huddle up before starting the 6k during the Hawkeye Invitational at Ashton Cross Country Course on Friday, September 6, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated six other teams to finish first overall for both men’s and women’s races.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

Max Murphy won the Iowa Class 4A state cross country meet by two-tenths of a second Last November, representing Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Before becoming a member of the Iowa cross country and track and field teams this fall, however, Murphy accomplished more. He participated in the Nike Cross Regionals in South Dakota eight days after winning state and finished fourth.

That punched him a ticket to the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon, on Dec. 7, where he finished in 112th place.

“That was a really cool experience getting treated really well by Nike, getting lots of gear and things like that,” Murphy said. “And then it was a really fun race, racing all the best athletes in the nation, and those are the guys I’m going to be competing against for the next four years.”

Max Murphy (Contributed)

Murphy competed in a 1600m race in Brooklyn, Iowa, over the summer, and finished with a personal record of four minutes and 17 seconds.

Recently, he ran a 3k time trial with his teammates and finished in eight minutes and 33 seconds – another personal record for him.

“It was really exciting, and it was great having the upperclassmen to help push me to run a fast time,” Murphy said.

Associate head cross country and assistant track and field coach Randy Hasenbank said the trial time Murphy ran is likely six seconds off what is likely the USA Junior qualifying mark.

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“He’s really, really crushing his training,” Hasenbank said. “We need to get him in a race soon just to see what he can do. I think he’s going to be really good at these longer races. He’s got a lot of ability. He’s very coachable and listens very well. A lot of the young guys have to be reminded over and over how to execute a workout. You tell him one time what the goal is and how he should execute, he knows it.

“He’s patient, he understands the ideas. He’s going to get better over time and just be patient, but a lot of fun to work with already.”

All that considering Murphy didn’t run his first varsity race in high school until his junior year. He said that he had good coaches at his high school with a good team, where his teammates helped push him to become the best he could be.

Murphy said he didn’t know he’d be a Division I runner until midway through his senior year as he was deciding between Iowa and Washington University in St. Louis — his final two choices on where to go to school.
He’s very glad he chose Iowa.

“I really like the team environment and coaches and all the other kids in my grade and I also like the engineering school a lot here,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s majoring in biomedical engineering and would like to do something in that field that helps a lot of people.
Hasenbank said that the coaching staff wants him to develop all his skills in a variety of distances. In the indoor track and field season, he’ll run the 3,000m. In the outdoor season he’ll run the 5,000m, which Hasenbank said he’ll be very good at. Murphy will also be running the 10,000m a couple years down the road in track and field.

The team is preparing for track and field this season.

“It will be really exciting to finally have a normal season again and have lots of races,” Murphy said. “I know I’ll run lots of fast times so I’m excited to compete again.”