Since the moment Nicolle Murphy’s javelin throw came up three feet short of a state championship last season, a scene that features a better ending has been playing over and over in her head.
Given a second chance Friday in her senior season, Arkansas CIty’s Murphy, a University of Minnesota signee, capitalized with a throw of 151 feet, 1 inch to capture the Class 5A championship as well as the state meet record.
“Redemption,” Murphy said with a smile. “This will definitely clear my mind. I can be at peace and just relax now.”
Last season Murphy consistently bested Valley Center’s Meagan Williams until the state meet, where Williams threw a season-best and won the title.
Williams established herself again with her first throw of the day, a 132-9 toss that gave her more than a 7-foot cushion on the field.
But on the last throw of the preliminary round, Murphy’s motions clicked and produced the winning throw of 151-1. It’s well under her season-best of 168-5, but it was enough.
“I’m not going to say I’m OK with (151-1), but I’m happy that it won it for me,” Murphy said. “The record will probably mean something to me later, but it hasn’t hit me yet. I wasn’t trying to throw with the state record in my mind. All I cared about was winning.”
Williams finished in second place, 18 feet behind Murphy.
As Murphy climbed down from the medal stand, she knew exactly what she was doing next: Locating her cell phone to text Minnesota throwing coach Lynne Anderson.
“I haven’t told her yet,” Murphy said giddily. “I can’t wait to do it. She’s going to freak out.”
Every morning for the past two years since Noelle Dooley entered Garden Plain High, older sister Natalie was the one who made sure she was up and around for practice.
Whether it was volleyball, basketball or track, the Dooley sisters followed a specific regimen: Natalie, a senior, leads and Noelle, a sophomore, follows.
But on Friday, it was Noelle’s moment to take the lead. The sophomore won the Class 3A championship in the discus with a throw of 126 feet, 5 inches, while her older sister joined her on the medal stand in third place with a throw of 120-6.
“I have to give all the credit to my sister,” Noelle said. “She’s always there for me and giving me advice. She’s the one that I always look up to and she’s the one that built me up and made me into who I am today.”
Noelle Dooley was second coming out of the preliminary rounds, but her first two throws of the finals were good enough for the title. First came a toss of 125-4, then the next tacked on 13 inches for her final mark.
She finished fifth in 3A last season, while her sister was right behind her in sixth.
“At first I didn’t even know I won because I thought the girl in second actually beat me,” Noelle said. “I didn’t know until I asked my mom and I couldn’t believe it. It was a very big surprise.”
Dooley possesses a rare combination of physical traits that allowed her to accomplish the following: win state in a throwing event, run a leg on the Owls’ 400-meter relay team, then qualify for the 3A finals in the 100 hurdles in a time of 16.66 seconds.
“You don’t see that very often,” Garden Plain coach Eric Rockers said. “It’s pretty special for anybody to be able to accomplish that. It’s been very exciting to watch her mature and develop this season. Her and her sister are two of our hardest workers.”
As a sophomore, Madison’s Cassidy Barnard finished runner-up in discus and third in Class 1A in the shot put and javelin. Three close encounters with a state championship.
A title finally worked out on Friday, as Barnard won the 1A title in the discus with a season-best throw of 127-10.
She added her fifth top-3 performance in her career later in the day, as she finished runner-up in the shot put.
Wire to wire
There wasn’t any doubt who controlled the race for the 3200 title in Class 1A, as South Barber freshman Santana Reeves already had a comfortable lead after the first lap.
A lead pack followed Reeves closely into the final lap, but she had more energy saved and used it to run her fastest lap of the total of eight to win by 12 seconds in a time of 11:38.72.