Freshman Alyssa Murphy Emerges as Elite Runner for Rebels XC


Danielle Levya

Although many may not find the passion or the fun in running, this is not the case with freshmen Alyssa Murphy. She has always had a passion to run, and now as one of of the top runners on Walpole Girls Cross Country, she is definitely having fun.

Typically, freshmen who join a team do not make an impact until junior or senior year.  By the second cross country meet this year though, Alyssa Murphy had not only been included in the varsity lineup, but she has steadily climbed the ranks throughout this season.  Against both Weymouth and Natick, Murphy was the second Walpole runner across the line behind first Walpole finisher, junior Gina Conti.  Murphy’s emergence in the front pack — which includes juniors Kristen Coyne, Mackenzie Wilson, Megan Jenkins, and senior Megan Peterson — has helped them achieve the biggest team accomplishments of this decade: beating Weymouth for the first time in team history and winning the Herget for the first time since 1994.

Before Murphy joined Girls Cross Country, she had previous experience running races. She has run the Walpole Road Race twice before. She had also participated in the Turkey Run at Bird Middle School.  In sixth grade Murphy recieved fourth place and in seventh grade she finished in second place. When she was in eighth grade the race was cancelled but from previous results, she probably would have finished in the top. Murphy said, “I have always loved running and it is one of [her] favorite sports.” Murphy also shows talent on the diamond, where she plays softball. This summer Murphy played on the Walpole Jr. Rebels (14AU) team. She usually played in the outfield and was a very good batter. Murphy plans to continue her love for running with Indoor Track in the Winter but plans to do Softball in the Spring.

Murphy’s career on the junior varsity team didn’t last very long. After just one meet, Coach Jamie Farrell moved her up to varsity to better the girls’ success this season. Murphy ran her first varsity race in Walpole on September 20 and finished as the seventh runner against Wellesley and Dedham. Murphy helped clinch the win for the girls against Wellesley by finishing at 17:41 and proved she deserved the spot on varsity.

Arguably, Murphy’s biggest contribution came in their victory over Weymouth on Wednesday, October 10. The Girls Cross Country team had never beat Weymouth before. While Murphy had finished as Walpole’s third finisher against Milton, she surpassed everyone’s expectations by finishing in fourth place overall as Walpole’s second finisher.  In finishing fourth overall, Murphy displaced Weymouth’s third runner to contribute to the win. Muprhy finished with a personal record of 17:06.

Coach Jamie Farrell said, “She’s been performing really well. She has been continuing to improve through the season and grow.”  According to Coach Farrell though, Murphy made the most significant improvements in their losses against Needham and Newton North on October 2.

Coach Farrell said, “It was the first varsity meet she really stepped up.” During the race, she ran by herself with no teammates to help her through. Running alone is very difficult to do, especially for a freshman, but Murphy showed that she had come to the meet prepared and ready to compete. Murphy finished at 21:09 as Walpole’s fourth runner with another huge PR of almost 2:00 (It was her second 5K since the road race in which she ran at 23:03).

In Invitationals, Murphy has also excelled. On Saturday, September 29, Murphy competed in her first invitational, MSTCA Frank Kelley’s Invitational. She was in the Freshmen Girls Division II Race, which was a 3000 meter race. Murphy managed to stay in the top ten throughout the duration of the meet. She medaled in her first invitational by finishing in 8th place with a time of 12:28.

Murphy said, “It was more challenging, but it was nice to see the skill level of other girls my age.” Murphy also ran the Freshman Race in the MSTCA Bob McIntyre Twlight meet, which was 2.1 miles. She ran in the top group for the duration of the meet to help her excel and finished in 4th place with 13:36.5. Murphy received her second medal at her second invite.

To help contribute to the huge win over Natick, Murphy finished as Walpole’s second runner. Murphy ran a PR of 16:13. The win for the girls gave them the title of Bay State Herget Champs. Farrell expects for her to continue being a contributing member of the varsity and team. Murphy shows great potential for success in the future. Murphy is hoping to break 21 minutes in a 5K by the end of the season.

Murphy said, “I hope I continue to progress and perform well the rest of the season leading up to the divisional meet.”