Max Murphy a staple for Iowa men’s cross country

After suffering through injuries in fall 2021, sophomore Max Murphy has returned better than ever for the Hawkeyes.


Braden Ernst

Iowa’s Max Murphy high fives a teammate after he crosses the finish line of the one mile run during the Jimmy Grant Invitational meet at the Iowa Recreation Building in Iowa City on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Members of Drake, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Iowa and Wisconsin were featured at the meet.

Jake Olson, Sports Reporter

Sophomore Max Murphy competed in only one cross country meet in the 2021 season. After coming in with high expectations to be one of Iowa’s top runners, Murphy was sidelined for nearly every race because of an injury.

“The injuries have made me better,” Murphy said. “It was tough at the time, but I learned from my mistakes and kept running.”

Murphy returned for the indoor and outdoor track and field season. In the process, he set multiple personal and school records for the Hawkeyes.

Murphy placed sixth in the 5,000-meter race in the 2022 Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships. With a time of 13 minutes and 58.57 seconds, Murphy not only set a collegiate personal best, but he also earned the third-best time in program history.

He placed second in the mile at the Razorback Invite in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Jan. 28-29, setting a personal best time of 4:05.45. During the outdoor season, Murphy also ran a collegiate best at the Stanford Invite in the 10,000-meter, finishing in 28:57.96 — fourth all-time in Iowa track and field program history.

After a productive offseason, Murphy set high expectations for himself. The Hawkeyes graduated Noah Healy following the 2021-22 season, and it was up to Murphy to fill those shoes.

Murphy set the tone in his first race back in 2022. In the Big Ten Preview on Sept. 9, he placed ninth overall in the 6,000-meter, finishing in 18:19.1. Among his Iowa teammates, only junior Nick Tratter placed in front of Murphy.

Trattner has been excited for Murphy’s return to the course this season. He said Murphy pushes him every day and is another fit runner to train with.

“It is huge having him back and having a teammate running up there with me,” Trattner said. “He and I can make a dent in Big Tens this year.”

Murphy and Tratter are currently the top two men’s runners for the Hawkeyes. The tandem has placed 15th or better in two of the three races they have run side-by-side in.

“We need to lean heavily on Nick and Max and take advantage of them being capable of establishing themselves up front,” coach Randy Hasenbank said. “Hopefully that’s the motivation everyone needs to cash in on the guys that are running in the front.”

Murphy and Trattner will flash their skills in the Big Ten Championships, which are on Friday in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Iowa will go up against Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.

Wisconsin and Michigan top the Great Lakes Region of the U.S Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll at second and third, respectively. Illinois comes in at seventh in the USTFCCCA Midwest Regional poll, while Iowa sits at 12th.