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story.lead_photo.caption The Sentinel-Record/Grace Brown HOG SIGNING: Lake Hamilton senior Edie Murray, center, signs a letter of intent with the University of Arkansas' track and field program Wednesday at Lake Hamilton High School. Murray is accompanied in front by her mother, Darbi Murray, left, and father, Todd Murray; and back, from left, grandparents, Sue and Billy Murray; and coaches Morry Sanders, Karl Koonce, Brandon Starr, Lewis Hunt and Brandon Smith.

PEARCY -- After four years with the Lake Hamilton track and field team, senior Edie Murray will be competing in the pole vault in Fayetteville next year for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Murray, who set a Class 6A state vault record last season in the state meet, will be joining coach Lance Harter's Razorbacks next season after signing a national letter of intent Wednesday afternoon in the Lake Hamilton High School media center.

"She's signing a track scholarship ... for the University of Arkansas, which is one of the absolute best track programs in the country," Lake Hamilton head track and field coach Karl Koonce said at the event.

"They don't give anybody an opportunity to just be on their team. It's a great day for Edie, and the good news is we've got her for one more track season before we relinquish her to the Hogs."

As a junior, Murray cleared 13 feet, 3 1/4 inches at the Class 6A state championships in Russellville in May, the second-highest record among girls in all classifications in the event behind former Cabot star pole vaulter and current Arkansas vaulter Lexi (Weeks) Jacobus. In her senior season, Jacobus cleared 14 feet in the 2015 Class 7A state meet, setting a national record of 14 feet, 7 1/2 inches a few weeks later.

Wolves pole vault coach Morry Sanders said Murray's abilities were evident early in her career.

"She's always been pretty talented," he said. "Early on, in seventh grade and a little bit in the eighth grade, pole vaulting was just something that she did just as an extra event. Then, all of a sudden, she realized, 'Hey, I've got some potential in this,' and then she started putting in the time. She jumped 8 foot, 8 (inches) as an eighth grader, and then her ninth grade year, she jumped 11-8, so a three foot difference.

"All that was was just her just finally making the choice to apply herself and put the time in. She just exploded. Once she started doing that, I knew that as she physically matured a little bit she was going to be good."

Murray agreed she was not serious about vaulting until the eighth grade.

"Coach recruited me when I was in seventh grade," she said. "I didn't really take it seriously until maybe eighth grade, and the years after that it started getting better. I realized, 'I can make this into what gets me into college,' and I'm really competitive, so that helps a lot.

"I just started coming to (Sanders') facility out in Black Springs. I had just been coming after school and practicing with him. Then, when I wanted to get serious, I started going to his place and that's when it happened."

While Murray has been a star pole vaulter for the Lady Wolves, she also competes in some running and jumping events.

"Very early in track, she started going toward pole vault," Koonce said, noting that Murray also scored points in the 200-meter sprint and the long jump last year to help the team bring home the state title. "She did other events all along.

"Obviously, the fact that she can run and jump well, too, lends to her doing well in the pole vault. She scored points in the long jump, and those two events, there's some correlation between running and jumping. Of course the pole adds a different dimension to it, but if you can run and jump, that certainly helps you with the physical skills toward pole vaulting."

Murray said her decision to attend Arkansas came with her visit to the university.

"I toured a lot of different colleges, and I feel I really just vibed with the team and the coach," she said. "I think it's the best option for me."

Both Koonce and Sanders said they were happy to see her join the Razorbacks.

"I'm excited," Sanders said. "The University of Arkansas has two sets of coaches for their track program; they've got men's coaches and women's coaches.

"Their women's pole vault coach is outstanding. His name is Bryan Compton. He does an outstanding job. He takes athletes and continues to develop them, which I love. I encourage any girl that's looking to improve in college that if she has a chance to go to Arkansas, she needs to take advantage of that opportunity because he does a great job with them."

"They have a well-known overall track program, but I think their strength in Arkansas mostly has been in their distance runners and their pole vaulters," Koonce said. "Coach Compton at Arkansas is the assistant track coach in charge of the field events, particularly the pole vault. It's got a real strong reputation there to continue what coach Sanders has done there."

Murray has plans to set another state record this season.

"This year, I hope to break 14 feet," she said. "After that, when I go to college, I hope to keep going up. If it's possible, I want to become a professional athlete. I think it would be so cool to tour to world, and I think pole vaulting could do that for me."

Sanders thinks Murray can continue to improve and possibly make the Olympic team.

"She's very athletic, has a lot of speed and is really strong," he said. "If she keeps on improving, there's always a chance that she could make the professional circuit.

"Obviously, with all of these guys, you hope that someday they've got a chance to make the Olympic team. The thing about making the Olympic team is you've got one day, and you've got to be on that one day and be the top three in the Olympic trials. So, it's a really hard team to make. She's got just as good an opportunity as anybody else."

Sports on 12/06/2018

Print Headline: Murray vaults to Razorbacks

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