Hello, my name is Tommy Murray, I am currently a Junior at Riverdale High School in Port Byron, Illinois. It has been my dream to be a college athlete from a young age. My passion for running began at 9 years old while running my first 5k. I will never forget my feeling of elation as I charged up the final hill and saw the finish line, experiencing something I have never felt before. I ran track throughout middle school and found success in 8th grade, barely missing the state meet in the highly competitive 1600m race.
By the end of middle school, I knew that I had fallen in love with long-distance running. During the summer before my freshman year in high school, I was faced with a potentially insurmountable hurdle in achieving my dreams. Due to lack of interest, our high school had not fielded a Cross Country team in a decade. I am fortunate and appreciative that I was able to beg my mom to invest her time and effort to re-start the Varsity Cross Country team at my school. I enjoyed working extremely hard throughout the summer before my freshman year. I was rewarded by setting our school’s freshman record at the first meet of the XC season by running a 16:56 in a 3-mile race. I improved this record several times over the season, with a final freshman PR of 16:36. I finished 16th at Sectionals, missing a solo runner berth at the State meet by one place.
My sophomore year I finished third at Regionals by running a 15:26. This is the proudest moment of my life because I set my school’s Sophomore record previously held by Dorian Ulrey, one of the only professional athletes to graduate from my high school. I finished third at Sectionals, which in a non-Covid year would have easily qualified me to run at State.
I believe the college experience is important as it teaches a student-athlete how to balance priorities of school and athletics, and those lessons of balance are especially important for my future adult life. I would also like to run collegiately to show people in my small community that hard work and dedication pays off. I would love to be an inspiration to the kids in my community, just as Dorian Ulrey’s running career has been an inspiration for me.
A strong work ethic is equally important in the world of academics as it is in the world of athletics. I am currently enrolled in every honors class available to me, and I finished the only AP class that my school offers with an A and a 5/5 on the AP test. I maintain a 4.0+ GPA despite the increased workload that these classes require. As the only freshman to be called up to compete on the Varsity Scholastic Bowl team, I was named to the All-Conference and All-Sectional team. I am proud to say that I was inducted into the National Honors Society as a sophomore. Only 5 others can say the same. I am a part of several clubs through my school such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Interact Club, and I am class of 2023 Vice President. I’ve learned that the joy I feel from running can be matched by the joy of giving back to the community through community service.
Because I enjoy traveling and new experiences, I am open to attending college anywhere in the country. I wish to compete at the highest level possible and I value academics as a keystone of a school's program. I hope to achieve great success in college and leave my mark as both a great student and a great athlete.