By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Newly-graduated Port Isabel High senior Daniella Murchison will compete in the shot put at the T.A.A.F. regional meet this Friday and Saturday, July 10-11, in Edinburg. After winning the previous two events, Murchison will be looking to claim her third straight gold medal this year.
Since her freshman year at Port Isabel High, Murchison was a very busy summer-time athlete. Two years ago, following her sophomore year of high school, she competed in 15 meets. These included the National Junior Olympics in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the USA Track and Field Youth Outdoor National Championships in Illinois. Last year’s schedule of only three meets, all in Texas, was much less frenetic. Still she had to stay in training and practice several times a week.
In May, Murchison became the first Valley high school athlete ever to win three gold medals in the same event at the UIL State Track and Field Meet in Austin with a throw of 44 feet 1 inch.
For 2015 Murchison was looking for an even easier schedule. “When I was a freshman I didn’t have a summer,” Murchison said this week. “My sophomore year I didn’t have a summer, and my junior year all I did was track, track, track. I never went out with my friends or anything. So, I said to my mother, ‘If I work really hard and win state for a third time, can I please have a summer?’ And she said, yes, I could this year.”
So after this weekend’s meet in Murchison can take the rest of the summer off, at least as far as any athletic activities go. But this summer Murchison has something entirely new to occupy her time, and that is getting ready to depart for college next month. She will be attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas on a full athletic scholarship.
Murchison will attend orientation on July 31st; “That’s when they’ll tell me everything I need to know about my classes and when I officially start.”
Murchison competed in shot put and discus all four years of her high school career. At SMU she will keep on with the shot put and add the hammer throw, while dropping the discus. Although the hammer is not a UIL-sanctioned event in Texas high schools, Murchison does have experience with it in competition. In 2013 she placed third in the hammer throw in the youth national championships meet in Illinois.
“I think I’ll just be doing the shot put and the hammer,” Murchison told the Press. “It’s really hard to do three events. Most of the girls only do one or two. I don’t want to do three.”
“I’m definitely excited about the hammer throw because a lot of the coaches I talked to on my official visits said I had the perfect physique for hammer throwing.”
In addition to positive feedback from the coaches, Murchison was able to converse with current SMU athletes as well. “I’ve met all of them … on my official visit in November. It was fun. They have a hammer thrower and I talked with (her).”
“It’s different because they rarely recruit athletes from the United States,” Murchison said this week. “Two of the throwers … one is from Nigeria and one is from Canada. One (shot putter) is from Nigeria and the other is from Texas.”
At SMU Murchison plans to major in business with a minor in kinesiology. “I want to try to open up my own gym and have a big athletic facility.”
This weekend’s meet in Edinburg will be conducted by the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation and is open to all interscholastic athletes in the Lower Valley. They will compete in groups ranging in age from five to eighteen. “I’m just going to go and see if I can win it again.” Murchison will compete in the Senior Division.
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