Salute to Seniors: Zach Murray of Haddonfield

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". We wanted to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time as well as invite those seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. Thank you to everyone who submitted, entries are now closed. 

Zach Murray

Haddonfield Memorial HS

What was your most memorable race or moment?

Although I am a 400 runner, my most memorable race was at the 2017 Shore Coaches at Holmdel, in the JVD race. There were five Haddonfield runners in that race, and I was the fifth man. Heading back into the woods after clearing the tennis courts, I saw my varsity team on the road and heard them yell out, "All they need you to do is finish to win as a team". As much as I wanted to drop out, I knew I couldn't. I will never forget the amount I pushed my sprinter body during that 5k, so I would not let my teammates down. Finishing a race has never felt so relieving as that one did.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

My biggest competition was Makye Sawyer-Smith of West Deptford. Since we were in the same conference, I didn't just get to race him at big meets like States or Meet of Champs. Throughout most of the season, we would be next to each other, even in the races where times were not official and the stands were empty. He was one of the athletes I have been fortunate enough to compete with every year, and it is going to feel different not lining up next to him every race these next four years.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment was probably winning the 2019 Outdoor Group 2 400m, without being in the fastest heat. I went into that race only having run Sectionals the week before, and prior to that, I had not run or intensively trained since a week before Penn Relays due to an injury. That race was special because I was never certain that I would be able to compete in it, so finishing first after a season of doubt helped me to realize that we are capable of more than we think.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school

I do not think I would change anything because everything that happened, the triumphs and the failures, ultimately resulted in my successes. Without the bad races, the good ones would not have felt as special. Without the injuries, I would not have known what it was like to miss the sport so much. Without finishing just behind an opponent, or missing a PR by 0.05 seconds, I would not have been as motivated for the next practice, workout, or race. It is these disappointments which benefited me the most in my high school career.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Injuries have kept me from many practices and races over multiple seasons, but the most difficult obstacle I've had to overcome was the constant torment from my friends who are distance runners constantly telling me sprinters don't do anything.

What will you miss the most?

Definitely not the bubble. I will miss everything that I took for granted these last four years, when I didn't realize that there would be a last time for everything. I will miss being able to say "See you tomorrow" to my teammates, the people who I got to train and compete with for the past four years. I will miss the chaos of Holmdel, and how I always thought I would be able to experience that atmosphere year after year. I will miss the meets which I spent months looking forward to, those which I can now only participate in by cheering on my younger teammates when I come back to visit.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

I would tell younger athletes that they do not need to MileSplit stalk their competitors. That will only make them more nervous. Meets are not about times that other runners have achieved earlier in the season, but rather the training a person has put and that individual's trust in his or her capabilities. Also, I would recommend that younger athletes should run cross country, even if they are sprinters. A high school running career can only last so long, and being a part of that family for one more season was well worth it in the long run.

What are your post-high school or college plans?

I will be attending Marquette University and running for the Golden Eagles.

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

I would like to say 'thank you' to my mom. She would drive more than an hour just to see me race for under a minute. She was always there to support me, whether or not I performed well, and all of the sacrifices she had to make are second to none.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

"It is a PR not a PB, I'm not making a sandwich with my times" - Bobby Hastie

Also a shout out to Payton Weiner who helped me write this.

Video of Murray's Group 2 State Title in the 400m, time of 48.45, before he went on to finished third at the Meet of Champions with a PR run of 48.11.