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Murray, former Titan runner, marks two decades as coach


Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 19:10

Entering his 20th season, Guy Murray, director of the track-and-field and cross-country programs at University of Detroit Mercy, has seen a lot of change take place in his two sports.

“We have come a long ways,” he said. “(We) are now a complete track-and-field/cross-country program with an on-campus track facility, full-time coaches, dedicated personnel from sports med, strength and conditioning, and many other areas of support to help the athletes.”

Murray has seen this development from both an athlete’s and coach’s perspective over the years.   

“My coach was a PE teacher here, who also coached tennis, so he was pretty busy,” he said. “(I’m) not sure how he did it all.  We really only had distance runners with a few sprinters and did not have an official team for the outdoor season.”

That was in the 1980s.

As an athlete at the University of Detroit (before it merged with Mercy College), Murray had a tremendous career. From 1985 to 1989, Murray was a four-year letter winner in both the track-and-field and cross-country.

In addition, Murray won the Dominick Taddonio Cross Country MVP Award in 1988, and the university President’s Award, which is given to the top senior student-athlete by the athletic department.

“It was a great honor to be recognized with the top student-athletes in UDM history,” said Murray. “I enjoyed my years as a Titan and worked hard to achieve my best and am glad it was worthy of a great honor.”

However, Murray’s success didn’t stop after he was done competing at the university. In 1999, he was an Olympic trial qualifier in the marathon after finishing 19th at the Grandma’s Marathon with a personal best time of 2:21:18. At the Olympic Trials in 2000, Murray placed 57th, with a mark of 2:35:16.

“For me it was a bit like the guy who was in the minor leagues for 10-plus years then got the call up for his 'cup of coffee' in the show – great experience with the start of the race being the highlight,” said Murray. “The marathon served up a harsh dish of reality, starting at the midpoint on a hot-plus-humid day and it was a long marathon shuffle to get to the finish to ensure I got my finish time so the record would show I made it.”

Kevin Smalley, a 2011 UDM graduate who competed in the steeplechase, is not surprised by Murray’s success.

“He sometimes would run with the team during practice,” said Smalley. “The thing, though, is that he used to beat about half of us.”

Though he earned recognition as a runner, Murray has been successful as a coach, too, leading six championship teams over the years.

Kevin Donner, the university’s first women’s cross-country coach, is now a head coach at Bucknell. He has known Murray since Murray was a freshman Titan.

“Guy is a very committed person who is extremely passionate about the coaching profession, the sport of cross country and track and field and the University of Detroit Mercy and most importantly his family,” said Donner. “He has a lot of integrity and is very personable with his friends, athletes and work colleagues.”

Smalley also said that Murray cares about more than the athletic side of things.

“Guy really cares about you as person, not just as an athlete,” he said. “As an athlete he made sure you stayed healthy for all four years, and off the field he made sure you were doing well as a person and in the classroom.”

 Murray, who has been head coach since 1996, likes coaching here for a couple reasons.

“The people and the competition,” he said. “The people as in both the athletes and the people at the university. We have a lot of people doing great things and making a positive impact here in Detroit. I enjoy the competition and the challenge of Division 1 athletics. The level can be overwhelming at times but makes the success stories even better to tell.”

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