Murphy Qualifies for NCAA Championships

STILLWATER, Okla. – Junior Max Murphy qualified for the NCAA Championships with a ninth-place finish and a 30:27.6 mark at the NCAA Midwest Regional on Friday afternoon.

Competing in his first career 10,000-meter race and NCAA Regional event, Murphy etched his name in Iowa’s record books, using his time to climb to seventh all-time in program history. Murphy is Iowa’s first NCAA Qualifier since Nathan Mylenek in 2019. Since taking over the program in 2017, Coach Hasenbank has now sent Hawkeyes to the NCAA Championships three times (Mylenek – 2018, 2019; Murphy – 2023).

“That performance by Max was pretty special,” distance and associate head coach Randy Hasenbank said. “He has been ready to do this for some time and each time we have had a setback. It has been an up and down season for him. I think it was a relief for him and it helps validate all the work and hours spent training.”

Following the race’s first 2,000 meters, Murphy steadily pushed from 59th-place towards the front of the pack, reaching 13th by the halfway point. The Bettendorf, Iowa, native had broken the top 10 by the final 2,000 meters and was able to hold off Illinois’ Jack Roberts and Loyola’s Chris Devaney to earn the ninth-place finish.

“Today was his day,” Hasenbank said of Murphy. “He was very focused and knew the course well, since we came down here last year for this reason. He made a tactical error a year ago. He did not make that same mistake today. I am very proud of him.”

As a team, the Hawkeyes placed 12th with 368 points. Seniors Aidan King and Jack Pendergast turned in strong performances in their finale wearing the black and gold. King’s 32:14.3 was good for 74th overall, while Pendergast took 82nd with his 32:24.0. Sophomore Brayden Burnett finished his impressive season, scoring once again for the team with a 32:27.0. Senior Ian Geisler rounded out the top five for Iowa with his 32:51.4 mark.

“Overall, the men had a very good day after an up and down season,” Hasenbank added. “They came out focused and aggressive and I thought they kept their concentration through the critical stage of the race. As a result, this was definitely our best performance of the season.”

Oklahoma State used 1-2-3 finishes to claim the team title with 19 points.

The women’s 6,000-meter race kicked off the meet with the Hawkeye women taking 19th-place overall out of 32 teams.

Senior Amber Aesoph led the squad for the fourth time this season, clocking a 21:54.6 and finishing 61st overall. Fellow senior Kelli Tosic placed second among Hawkeyes, crossing the line in 22:22.3. Sophomore Jalyssa Blazek made her regional debut and scored with a time of 22:25.8. Senior Abby Ryon (22:31.7) and sophomore Aleah Tenpas (22:46.6 – PR) wrapped up the top five for Iowa.

“I’m proud of the resilience our team showed after Big Ten Championships,” assistant distance coach Shayla Houlihan said. “We came into the regional championships ranked 19th and outperformed that ranking in a lot of little ways that most may not see. Our women ran with a lot of grit and a ton of passion. Amber was our fearless leader once again, placing 60 spots higher than last year. I am proud of this team and all they have accomplished this season.”

The team averaged a time of 22:24.2 and had a spread of 0:52. Oklahoma State won the team title with 30 points, led by individual champion Billah Jepkirui (20:28.4).

UP NEXT: Junior Max Murphy will compete at the NCAA Championships in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Nov. 18. The 10,000-meter race will begin at 10:10 a.m. (CT).

Women’s 6,000-meters
61. Amber Aesoph – 21:54.6
97. Kelli Tosic – 22:22.3
101. Jalyssa Blazek – 22:25.8
110. Abby Ryon – 22:31.7
126. Aleah Tenpas – 22:46.6, PR
167. Rowan Boulter – 23:28.6
182. Cameron Kalaway – 23:49.8

Men’s 10,000-meters
9. Max Murphy – 30:27.6, NCAA Qualifier, 7th at Iowa
74. Aidan King – 32:14.3
82. Jack Pendergast – 32:24.0
89. Brayden Burnett – 32:27.0
115. Ian Geisler – 32:51.4
120. Will Ryan – 32:53.7
140. Miles Wilson – 33:11.4