An NAZ Elite rookie on Tuesday took second place in her first race as a member of the roster.
Grayson Murphy, who signed with the team two weeks ago, ran a 33:11 at the Deseret News 10K in Salt Lake City, debuting for NAZ Elite in front of a home crowd. She paced the course at 5:21 while competing against a field that included 2018 Boston Marathon runner-up Sarah Sellers and defending Desert champion Taylor Ward.
Murphy was coming off a break that followed the end of her college career, but she had expressed to NAZ Elite head coach Ben Rosario that she wanted to be in a race that is a holiday event in Utah.
“Sometimes when you are coming off a break, you still have your legs, so even though you are not fit you can race fairly well, and that’s what she did," Rosario said. "She started off around sixth or seventh place until like a mile, even around the 5K, and then she just started picking people off in the second half of the race. She’s a good racer and so strong and ended up in second place with a good time, so we were thrilled, really.”
Jocelyn Todd won the event on the women's side with a time of 32:30. Ward came through third in 33:18, and Sellers was seventh overall on the women's side.
Before Murphy toed the start line of her first race for NAZ Elite, three of her veteran teammates fared well at the prestigious Wharf to Wharf 6-mile, which starts at Santa Cruz Wharf and ends at Capitola Wharf.
Clocking a 28:00.02 on Sunday in a race known for its high-caliber international field, Scott Smith became the first American male to break into the top three since his current NAZ Elite teammate, Ben Bruce, did so in 2014 on a 28:07.29 performance.
It was Smith's highest finish in the race. Meanwhile, Craig Lutz recorded a fifth-place finish on a 28:30.79. Smith, competing in his fourth straight Wharf, and Lutz became the first pair of Americans to finish in the top five since 2014 as well.
Both representing Kenya, Silas Kipruto finished first in 27:51.29 and Simon Chirchir second in 27:56.24. Last year the pair of Kenyans were in the top three, as Chirchir was runner-up that year and Kipruto garnered bronze.
On the women's side, Stephanie Bruce, who was coming off her first-ever national-title performance in the USATF 10K Championship, recorded another fourth-place finish a Wharf, crossing the line in 31:04.96 for her fastest time ever in the race. She took fourth place in 2013.
“Santa Cruz treated us well for sure,” Rosario said.
Caroline Rotich of Kenya ran for the gold on the women's side of the 2018 Wharf gold with a time of 29:58.02.
ROLL CALL TO RACE
Also on Tuesday, NAZ Elite announced via its Twitter account that another new member of the team received good news. Alice Wright was officially named to the British Athletics team and will compete in the 2018 European Championships 10K on Wednesday, Aug 8.
Wright, Murphy and Erin Clark, all fresh out of impressive collegiate careers, joined the team in mid-July.
"She's competed for them before at the junior level, but now to compete for them at the senior level in the European Championships, it's going to be a big opportunity," Rosario said.