comscore Murphy moves into future at his usual fast pace
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Murphy moves into future at his usual fast pace

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Pierce Murphy took a rare day off Saturday … mostly because he doesn’t know the running routes around Waikiki all that well.

“I didn’t know where to run,” says the Hawaii high school state champion and record-holder in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters from Kauai.

Not that this guy’s a slacker. Just a few weeks after the state meet, he’s back up to 60 miles a week, already building up a strong base for his first college cross country season.

On Saturday, he won the 8-mile Haena to Hanalei race, in 42 minutes and 30 seconds.

Murphy is one of the 12 Hawaii high school student-athletes feted Sunday night at the Sheraton Waikiki as they were inducted into the Hawaii High School Hall of Honor.

The others are Kalei Adolpho (Molokai), Chrissy Chow (Punahou), Micah Christenson (Kamehameha), Caprice Dydasco (Kamehameha), Koa Kaai (Kamehameha), Leisha Liilii (Castle), Marcus Mariota (Saint Louis), Zhane Santiago (Kahuku), Shea Shimabukuro (Kauai), Kailea Tracy-Visintainer (Seabury Hall) and Maiki Viela (Lahainaluna).

PRODIGIES ARE EASILY identified in running. They start winning at a young age. Murphy, who started out as a soccer player, began beating all the adults at road races on Kauai at age 13.

“I started winning, and decided I like racing and competing,” he said.

But Murphy remained a relative unknown off of the Garden Isle until high school, when he captured state championships and put tiny Island School on the map. There are about 300 students (K-to-12), including 32 in his senior class.

“We’re like a family because it’s such a small school,” he says. “And everyone plays one or two sports.”

HE FINDS INSPIRATION from runners of generations past — one of whom isn’t even alive.

“I used to watch YouTube videos of Steve Prefontaine,” Murphy said, referring to the Oregon star from the 1970s.

In 2004, when he was 11, Murphy came to Oahu and ran in the Honolulu Marathon’s 5-kilometer race. That’s where he met another running great from more than 30 years ago, Frank Shorter.

“All I really knew about him at the time was that he was a marathoning legend, and he was friends with Steve,” Murphy said.

It wasn’t until later that Murphy learned that Shorter, the 1972 Olympic Marathon champion, went to Colorado, the school he will be attending in the fall.

Murphy said he chose to walk on at Boulder, Colo., despite being offered a partial scholarship at Oregon, which was previously his dream school. He’d visited Eugene, Ore., and attended the Nike Track Camp there.

“I liked Oregon but also visited Colorado and felt like it’s the best option,” Murphy said. “I like the town, everything.”

His talent and effort put him on the short list of Hawaii’s greatest high school runners, with names like Duncan Macdonald, Henry Marsh, Kurt Mench, Bryce Jenkins and Matt Stevens. Like all of Sunday night’s honorees, Murphy looks forward to new athletic and academic challenges in college.

And he’ll have plenty of time to learn his way around the hills of Boulder.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at, his “Quick Reads” blog at and
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