By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
COLUMBUS -- She made her way through the stadium crowd, accepting handshakes, high-fives, yells of encouragement.
Everyone knew her. How many did she know?
"None," she said, smiling.
She trotted up the steps, then made her way to a smiling woman with graying hair wearing a red T-shirt and clutching a program.
Minutes after the best moment of her career, there was only one person Girard High senior Cachet Murray wanted to see -- her grandmother, Amelia.
"It's awesome, it is awesome," Amelia Murray said. "I don't think I felt any better when I had her mom."
Twenty-five years ago, a Girard senior named Terry Murray won the 100 and 200 and anchored the winning 4x100 relay, leading the Indians to the Class AA girls track title -- their first, and only.
Now it was her daughter's turn in the spotlight, winning three state titles at Saturday's Division II state meet at Jesse Owens Stadium to lead the Indians to a second-place finish -- their best since 1980.
Girard is second
Columbus Eastmoor Academy edged the Indians, 60-33.
"This is a team sport and I love this team dearly," Cachet Murray said. "I'll take that silver any day."
Minutes earlier, Murray stood at the top of the podium for the 10th time in her career, becoming only the second girl in Ohio history to win two events four years in a row.
As she accepted her medal, the P.A. announcer said, "Ladies and gentlemen, please bear with me as we honor the girl at the top of the platform." He then proceeded to read off her accomplishments.
And as he did, Murray smiled and blew kisses to the crowd.
"It hasn't hit me yet," she said. "This is the best feeling in the world."
After cruising to her second-straight long jump title earlier in the day, Murray faced the toughest test of her four-year career in the 100-meter dash. Eastmoor Academy senior Ayrizanna Favours -- a three-time state champion in the 400 -- was just a hundredth of a second behind Murray entering the final.
Then, 12.02 seconds later, Favours was still a hundredth of a second behind Murray. Murray didn't know she had won until she looked up at the stadium scoreboard. When she saw her name in first, she leaned back with both legs behind her, looked up at the sky and pumped her fist. And as she walked over to the infield podium, she leaned over to Lima Shawnee sophomore Shavae Wright and said, "Mine, it's mine."
"I put my heart and soul into that race," Murray said afterward. "It's been mine for the last three years. I wasn't going to let anybody take it away from me.
"I just ran until my little legs reached the finish line."
Added Amelia, "She only won by a hair, but she won."
An hour later, Murray pulled away to win the 200 for the fourth straight year, becoming the first girl in state history to win 10 individual state championships. Four other girls have won 10 or more titles, but all of them were in at least one winning relay.
More remarkable, Murray did it while struggling with tendinitis in her knee. She was in a whirlpool at 8 a.m., "praying to God that He would give me strength today," she said.
"She told me before the meet, 'Grammy, those are my records and I'm not going to lay down,' " said Amelia, who has been at all four state meets. "They're gonna have to come and get them."
Her accomplishments over the past four years are staggering.
*She's 10 for 10 in individual events. (Her only losses have come in relays.)
*She owns Division II state records in the 100 (11.82) and 200 (24.05), setting both at last year's state meet.
*She's the only Ohio girl to ever win two sprinting events four straight years. Archbold's Rachel Sauder was the only other girl to win two events four straight years, capturing titles in the 1600 and 3200 from 1989-92.
"Everything she set out to do, she's done," Amelia said. "She's amazing to watch."
And Murray may have saved her best for last when she ran the last leg of the 4x400 relay. When Murray got the baton, the Indians were in a distant eighth. By the time she finished, they were sixth. She struggled across the finish, then collapsed on the track.
As she lay on the ground, her teammates helped her to her feet and walked her over to the infield.
How fitting. She carried them to the podium, then they carried her.
"It was the perfect way to end my high school career," she said.
Murray will run at the University of Mississippi next year, hoping to build on what has already been a career for the ages.
"I'm ready. I am ready," she said. "All of my coaches came here to support me. I knew I couldn't let them down."