Cherokee’s Austin Kirkpatrick’s hard work that led to a successful high school cross country career paid off on Wednesday afternoon.
Kirkpatrick, the first runner in Cherokee cross-country history to race in the state meet and the first all-state runner, signed with Murray State on Wednesday to continue his running career.
“I was filled with such excitement when I signed,” Kirkpatrick said. “I felt like my hard work had paid off, and it was just a very exciting day.”
Signing with the Racers was an easy choice for Kirkpatrick after taking his visit to the campus in Murray, KY. It was the family feel during that time that sold him on the school and program.
“When I went on my visit, that is when I really knew that I wanted to go there,” Kirkpatrick said. “It just had a real family feel to it, and I loved the small-town feel. I was just looking for that family environment, and I found it there.”
Kirkpatrick will be bringing a lot of momentum to Murray State after a successful senior cross-country season. During the season, Kirkpatrick had six top-5 finishes. Kirkpatrick won the Bristol Cross meet and ran his personal best, 16:24, at the 47 th annual Trailblazer Invitational where he finished fifth.
Kirkpatrick kept the winning going in the post-season meets, winning the IMAC Cross Country Championships, his third straight conference title. He followed that up by finishing third in the Region 1 Championships and 36 th in the State meet.
“I feel like my confidence got a lot better as the season went along my senior year,” Kirkpatrick said. “The success I had really helped my confidence and allowed me to be a successful runner and have a successful season.”
Kirkpatrick’s senior season was a reflection of his cross-country career at Cherokee high school. His freshman year, Kirkpatrick finished fifth in the Foot Locker South Regional meet and won the Flying Falcons Cross Country Classic.
His sophomore year, Kirkpatrick had his highest finish in the State meet, coming in 14 th place. During his junior year, Kirkpatrick won the IMAC Championship for the second time and came in 33 rd in the State Championship meet.
Kirkpatrick will be joining a Murray State team that finished in 33 rd in the NCAA Southeast Regional. The Racers won the Murray State Open last season and came in sixth in the OVC Cross Country Championships.
“I need to work on my physical ability (before getting to Murray State),” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s just good knowing that I can compete with the best of the best.”