Cardinal Senior Helps Spark Cross Country Success

Nov. 16, 2000

Thomas Murley
Sport: Men's Cross-Country
Year: Senior
Hometown: Elizabethtown, KY
High School: Elizabethtown HS
Major: Art History and Religious Studies
Stanford Athletics Highlights:One of Stanford's top two runners and a co-captain on the 2000 team ... Has led the Cardinal to the #2 national ranking heading into the NCAA Championships on November 20, as well Pac-10 and NCAA West Region titles ... Finished sixth at the Pac-10 event and seventh at the NCAA West Regionals ... Has helped lead the Cardinal to an NCAA Championship in 1997, second place in 1998 and fourth place in 1999 ... Also one of the nation's top 10,000 meter runners in the nation, helping the Cardinal to its first NCAA track & field title in 66 years last season ... A five-time All-Pac-10 Academic selection in cross country and track & field ... Future plans include joining the Peace Corps.

He wants to make a difference in people's lives and Stanford's Thomas Murley is ready for the challenge.

The fifth-year senior has certainly been a vital force in the success of Stanford cross country. For Murley, while running has been an important ingredient in his life, he has other important challenges ahead. Murley believes it is time for him 'to give back, help others, try to make a difference.'

Murley believes he has been a self-involved person his whole life, which according to him is not a bad trait, but that at some point a person needs to give back.

That's why he is planning on joining the Peace Corps after his days at Stanford University are over. 'I understand that one needs to be self-involved to grow, and that is part of the maturation process,' said Murley. 'But at some point you need to give back and stop running for yourself or studying for yourself. I have taken and taken, and I've been very appreciative, but now I think it is time to give back.'

That means applying for the Peace Corps where he will help people in underdeveloped countries, and at the same time experience another culture. 'It's important how we interact with each other,' said Murley 'and that will be an important part of my life in the years ahead.'

His goals are indeed noble for a Stanford student-athlete who arrived at Stanford as a freshman, a bit overwhelmed with his new environment. Today, he is now very much a part of the fabric of the University.

'I've had a lot of different experiences, and there has been a lot of progression,' said the Art History/Religious Studies major.

His first memory of Stanford was running at the U.S. Junior Cross Country Nationals in 1996, a wide-eyed freshman running alongside two other talented Stanford runners, Brent Hauser and Jason Balkman. Murley remembers the experience like it happened yesterday.

'That was a special experience,' said Murley. 'Brent and Jason mentored me through the whole race and helped me finish in the top six, and thus I earned a trip to the World Championships. It was great running side-by-side with these two great runners who had NCAA experience and who I had seen on television. I was honored.'

Murley sometimes wonders where time has gone. Five years as a Stanford student-athlete will officially end on Monday, November 20, when the Cardinal fifth-year senior puts on his Cardinal & White uniform for the last time in an NCAA cross country event. Instead of the wide-eyed freshman, he is now one of two graduating seniors on a Cardinal team that the younger runners look up too.

'I'm not used to leadership roles, but this year especially, and last year to a certain extent, I've had to become a leader. And I really feel mature because of this situation. I also feel quite old.'

Stanford's men's team is ranked #2 in the nation, and Murley and fellow co-captain Jonathon Riley have been the backbone of another strong Cardinal squad. This year, Murley has competed in four races, with no finish lower than seventh. He finished sixth at the Pac-10 Championships, and seventh at the NCAA West Regionals, two events that the Cardinal captured first place honors.

Murley grew up in Marion County, Kentucky, a small, rural community where he lived amongst the woods and tobacco fields. His dad's passion for road racing filtered down to Thomas where he would run along the country roads and down the two-mile driveway leading to the family home.

'I've always been attracted to the meditative aspects of running,' said Murley. 'Running some place quiet and away from the busy things in life is enjoyable.'

Murley's running talents also will lead to what promises to be another great season as a 10,000 meter runner in track in the spring. His career-best time of 28:53.70 last year was fifth-best in school history, and earned him a berth in the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships.

His running goals have been further heightened by watching several Stanford athletes perform at the Sydney Olympics.

'Watching my friends, Gabe Jennings, Brad Hauser and Michael Stember compete at the Olympics with the best athletes of the world was a great experience to watch,' said Murley. 'Certainly having an opportunity to maybe compete in 2004 will be a motivation to continue training, and working hard.'

Murley's strength is the 10,000 meters, but running the marathon is a possibility. 'Maybe,' said Murley. 'But it does seem crazy to run 26 miles.'

Murley laughs at that notion, but one thing is certain. This Cardinal runner has definite goals that are respected on-and-off the track.

by Bob Vazquez

Now on Pac-12 Network
3:30 AM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network
Get Pac-12 Networks
Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder