Daven Murphree didn’t become a three-time state pole vault champion and a champion at several national meets by accident.
When natural talent blends with hard work and an undeniable will to win, good things happen and Murphree has displayed all three of those elements during a memorable summer — one he hopes to end on a winning note.
Murphree, who graduated from Harmony High School this past spring, will depart Tuesday to compete in the 2013 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships in Medellin, Columbia. Medellin, the second largest city in Columbia, is located in the Aburra Valley — one of the most northerly of the Andes Mountains in South America.
This is far from a vacation for Murphree, however.
“My thinking is that this is a business trip,” said Murphree, who will return from South America the same day he is supposed to begin classes at Stephen F. Austin State University.
“I’m going down there to jump as high as I can and to win it. I know there are going to be guys there just as good or better than me, and I will have to bring my ‘A’ game. If that’s good enough to bring home the gold, so be it.”
Murphree’s busy year started in March when he competed in the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York, and won the pole vault with a best of 17-1. In May, the Harmony standout captured his third straight Class 2A state pole vault championship in Austin.
The day after he walked across the stage with his diploma at Harmony, Murphee competed in the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic in Albuquerque, earning gold with a best of 16-11. A week later, he won the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. (17-0), and four days after that he turned in a best of 16-8.75 to win the USA Junior Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
That win qualified him for this week’s Pan American championships, but Murphree has had to overcome some adversity in the months leading up to this event.
After qualifying for the meet in South America, Murphree took two weeks off. When he resumed training, he suffered an ankle injury that cost him a week on the track.
“It wasn’t too bad thankfully. I just rolled it,” he said. “I got released two days before a TAAF meet in Gladewater and decided to go see what I could do.”
After not practicing for three weeks, Murphree won the meet with a jump of 17-6.
When he returns from South America, Murphree will immediately begin classes — and working out — at SFA. He plans to compete individually in a meet in Belton in late December, and his first scheduled team meet with the Lumberjacks is Jan. 12 at Texas A&M.
As for starting his college career with an absence? Murphree isn’t worried.
“I’ll miss the first practice, but the coaches are really excited for me to get this opportunity,” he said.
Especially if he brings home the gold.