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By JOE SCALZO



Published: Tue, July 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

Cachet Murray was getting ready for bed on June 8 when her teammate, Jenny Sopkovich, approached her and said, "I'm so proud of you. But why aren't you more excited?"

Hours earlier, Murray had set the state record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.30 in the preliminaries at the state track and field meet in Dayton.

Problem was, Murray didn't know.

"So Jenny starts yelling, 'You are crazy! You have the record!'" Murray said. "I said, 'No I don't.' I thought she was talking about another school record. I had no idea."

The next day, Murray -- the Vindicator girls track athlete of the year -- won state titles in the 100 and 200 and anchored the fifth-place 4x100 relay team.

Her mother, Terry, won all three events to lead Girard to the Class AA state title in 1980.

Regional meet more exiciting

"State was exciting, don't get me wrong, but the most exciting part of the season for me was regionals," Murray, who also won the 100 and 200 at the district and regional meets, said. "I knew if I won my events I was going to state. When our 4x100 relay team beat Liberty, I was on cloud nine. It was our first time beating Liberty and our only time beating Liberty."

Liberty's 4x100 relay team finished third at state. The Leopards won a state title in the 4x200 relay. Murray is close friends with Liberty junior Jessica White, who finished third in the 100 and 200 and anchored the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.

"Jessica was pushing me at every race this season," she said. "It wouldn't have been as exciting without her.

"I think it's fun to be friends with the competition. I cheered for everyone in our area to do well. I even had a party with the girls from Liberty before the meet."

Murray had to be talked into going out for track this season -- "don't get me wrong, I loved it, but the season is so long," she said -- and her track coaches told her she had a good chance of making it to state.

"It was a little tough because everyone was expecting me to be great because of my mom," Murray said. "I was trying to talk myself out of running. But I knew I'd end up doing it.

"My goal at the beginning of the year was to make it to state and to win. I guess I fulfilled my goal."

Prefers basketball

Murray still prefers basketball -- she played last winter for Girard, which won the Trumbull Athletic Conference -- but doesn't plan to stop running track.

"I just love having teammates," she said. "It was more important to me for our 4x100 relay team to make it to state. Instead of having everybody concentrate on one person, you can concentrate on the whole team."

Ask Murray what she dislikes most about track and you get a pretty quick answer.

"Oh, I'll tell you the worst thing," she said. "The worst thing is when it's rainy and cold outside and one of people on your relay team forgets her spandex so no one on the team can wear spandex and you just got your hair done and you're stuck out there freezing to death.

"I hate the cold. When I had to run outside, I'd pack blankets and I never forgot my spandex."

Ask her what she likes most about track and she hesitates for a moment.

"Well, I think the best thing is being able to run with Jessica," she said. "We're like sisters. We push each other a lot. It's not going to be the same after [White graduates] next year."

In fact, Murray's goal for next year is to see "Jessica go out on top."

"But not on the top of the podium," she said with a laugh. "I'm not going to give it to her. But if someone were to beat me, I hope it's her."

scalzo@vindy.com




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