By Tim Lima
---- — LOWELL – With dedication to her team and a desire to improve, UMass Lowell junior Taelour Murphy continues her record-setting track career.
Murphy, a Salisbury native and an alumna of Triton Regional High School, has proven over her track career that the road to state championships and school records is a systematic process. While surely talented, the growth exhibited over her three years running at the collegiate level is a result of her relentless determination to better her craft.
“I think the biggest thing about (Murphy) is that she really is a leader by example,” said UMass Lowell head coach Gary Gardner. “She works as hard as any kid on our team and always has. It’s the way she goes about her business to make sure everything gets done in a quality way, rather than simply going through the motions. She does a great job for us.”
By being a worthy example for her teammates, Murphy has developed a leadership role for the River Hawks. This responsibility is not something she is unaccustomed to, given that she was a captain of her high school team and was a member of the Triton Leadership Club.
“I think of myself as a leader on the team,” Murphy said. “I stay very involved here and do the best that I can. I like to think my teammates will come and ask me questions, and I try to be very approachable.”
While the majority of collegiate track and field athletes work their entire careers to set records, few succeed.
Murphy, on the other hand, has set school records in three indoor events: the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash and the 4x400 relay.
She also owns school records in the 200-meter dash and the 4x400 relay in outdoor track as well.
Of her five records, four came last year, and during this current indoor track season Murphy has broken the 200-meter dash record multiple times.
Her best time is 23.71 seconds, topping the mark set by Northeast-10 Conference Hall of Famer Jill Croft in 2001.
“I always looked at the record board and saw her name and I idolized her because of the talent and the work she put in,” Murphy said.
“To take that record was a big moment for me and to know how big of an impact she had, hopefully I can accomplish the same here.”
The most-talented athletes not only set records and achieve great feats, but remain grounded and hungry to improve.
With the help of her coach, Murphy continues to look toward the future to swell her list of accomplishments.
“She obviously runs a great 200, but her start in the dash still needs work,” Gardner said.
“She’s almost at a level with kids who are really, really good so we just need to clean that up and she will run faster over 400-meters by quite a bit. That’s an area where we are just scratching the surface.
“There’s a lot of room to grow in that area. She will get the opportunity to run the 400 this spring and will get better. She is stronger every year.”
Adding to the strength of her accomplishments is the transition that her team has recently made.
The River Hawks transitioned from the Northeast-10 Conference in Division II to the America East Conference in Division I; something that has changed the game for Murphy while also opening doors.
“We basically ran a Division I schedule anyway before the move so it didn’t affect us too much,” Gardner said.
“The biggest change is in the outdoor season where we travel a lot more. Sprinting in this cold weather isn’t ideal, so Taelour will be traveling to a warm weather meet every other weekend, starting next weekend where she will be in South Carolina for our opening meet.
“We are also flying her out to California for two different meets, plus Virginia, Philadelphia and other places,” he continued.
“It’s a lot different than what she’s used to in a Division II environment, so that will help her grow and improve.”
Like many of us who have endured this winter would be, traveling to warm weather is something that Murphy is very excited for.
“I’m really excited,” she said.
“I never thought I’d go to South Carolina, California or Pennsylvania to run track. The advantage of the warm weather with the experience to bond with my team is great. The trips are always fun, getting a hotel room, watching movies and playing cards with your team help to make memories. Also, the high level of competition out there gives you a chance to push the limits and test where you are.”
While her college career has three full college track seasons remaining, there isn’t much that Murphy hasn’t accomplished in her track career.
Along with her five school records in college, Murphy was a part of the Northeast-10 Conference champion 4x400 meter relay team.
While at Triton, she set a school record record (12.13) and a state championship in the 100-meter Dash and was a five-time Cape Ann League All Star and sprinting champion.
“While at Triton I learned to take advantage of the coaching staff and pick their brain for ways to improve,” Murphy said.
“I learned to ask questions and develop skills and knew that if I put in the work I would see results. I ran a 12.1 (100-meter dash) and broke a school record and was a state champion – something that gave me the ability to see that with hard work, you can achieve anything. I took that to college with me and have used that to my advantage.”
With room to grow and the desire to better herself, who knows where the road may take her.
“Taelour has really, for two years, been growing into this year,” Gardner said.
“Her freshman year was a little rough and not quite what she had anticipated, or what we had anticipated. She didn’t have the results that we had hoped for, but that happens a lot with freshmen. She has done a fantastic job coming into her own and has grown a lot along the way.”