Murray keeps Arizona running ahead of the pack

By Drew Sibr

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Three words best describe Arizona head cross country coach Dave Murray.

Dedication, dedication, dedication.

Murray has been a part of Arizona athletics since he arrived in 1962 to run under coach Carl Cooper, and 32 years later he is the driving force behind one of the top cross country and track and field programs in the country.

Murray, 52, became the head cross country coach in 1968, succeeding Cooper, the only other cross country coach in Arizona history. In his 28 years of coaching, Murray and his teams have compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, propelling the Wildcat program into the nation's elite.

Murray was named the NCAA Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1984 after the Wildcats finished second at the NCAA Championships, but has not come that close to winning the team title since.

The seventh-ranked 1994 Wildcat men's team, returning from a third place finish at the Michigan Inter-Regional Sunday in Ann Arbor, has a chance to win Arizona's first NCAA cross country title.

"There's a shot to win, no question," said Murray. "We definitely have, this year on the men's side, a championship team. Any meet we enter, we can win the championship, and that includes the national championship."

When Murray first arrived at Arizona, there were only 12,000 students on campus and 200,000 citizens in Tucson. The tradition-rich Arizona program under Dave Murray has had continued success throughout because of his hard work.

"Over the years we have developed one of the better traditions in the country in

the areas of cross country, long-distance running and track and field," said Murray, a five-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

As only the second men's cross country coach in UA history, Murray appreciates the changes that have occurred over his tenure.

"When I was going to school here in the sixties, Carl Cooper was the coach," said Murray. "There was no girls' coach, there wasn't a sprint coach, there wasn't a distance coach. He coached everything. When I look back and think about it today, compared to those days, we've got it made."

Thinking back to the days when he sprinted across campus to register for classes, Murray believes that the student-athlete of today has it much easier than when he was in school.

"There is no way that (student-athletes) should not be successful with all of the tools that they are provided with to be successful," said Murray, who graduates over 90 percent of his athletes.

The continued success of his program and athletes has built a lasting relationship between he and the UA, one that should survive for many more years.

"Tucson has changed tremendously over the years that I've been here, however I don't feel like I've been here that long," said Murray. "The main reason being that I've enjoyed every moment of being here on campus, and that's the reason I've stuck around so long."

Although Murray is already eligible to retire, he does not forsee that happening for some time.

"The lure and magnet of Tucson and the University of Arizona is what kept me here," he said, "and I know that this is where I'll finish my career whenever that might be."

The Michigan Inter-Regional meet was the Wildcats final stop in preparation for the postseason, which includes the Pacific 10 Conference championships Oct. 29 at Stanford, the NCAA District VIII Championships Nov. 12 at Randolph Golf Course, and the NCAA Championships Nov. 21 in Fayetteville, Ark.

Wildcat All-America senior Martin Keino led the way in Michigan. He finished the 8,000-meter course in 24 minutes 34.30 seconds, winning his fourth race of the season. Keino, from Eldoret, Kenya, a favorite to win the men's individual NCAA title, is one of the most accomplished runners in Arizona history. He was named the Pac-10 Athlete of the Year in 1993 after becoming the first person in Pac-10 history to win three (1,500m, 5,000m and steeplechase) events at the conference championships.

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