Weekly Feature

2017-07-13 / Sports

Murray tabbed West GAA’s Female Athlete of the Year

Swimmer and track star Kayla Murray closed out her high school athletic career in style, as the recent graduate was named the West Seneca West Girls Athletic Association Female Athlete of the Year for the 2016-17 school year.

Murray plans to study molecular genetics and compete on the track team at Fredonia State College starting in the fall. The multi-time Athlete of the Month honoree was also named Most Improved in both of her sports more than once at West, and Murray also received both an Indian Award and a Shield of Excellence — for the amount of points earned in the pentathlon, an event in which she placed third at ECICs this spring — on the track team.

Murray, a co-captain for the track team, was also part of the current school record-holding foursome for the shuttle hurdle relay. She scored 40¼ points, which ranked fourth out of the 36 team members in West’s ECIC Division II contests, to help the Lady Indians post a 5-0 record against league foes.

She also posted 23 points, which tied for seventh on the team, across the five major invitationals she participated in this season, highlighted by her second-place finish in the pole vault at West’s fifth West Seneca West Track and Field West graduate Kayla Murray, right, receives a certificate from West Seneca West Girls Athletic Association faculty advisor Jennifer Bell recognizing Murray’s selection as the 2016-17 West Seneca West GAA Female Athlete of the Year. West graduate Kayla Murray, right, receives a certificate from West Seneca West Girls Athletic Association faculty advisor Jennifer Bell recognizing Murray’s selection as the 2016-17 West Seneca West GAA Female Athlete of the Year. Classic.

“Kayla was a key contributor in multiple events all season as our most versatile student athlete,” track coach Emilio Mancino said. “Thanks to Kayla’s unselfish performances — competing where our team needed her to compete for us to be the most successful we could be — she was a major factor in our girls defeating Sweet Home to regain the ECIC II title outright.”

Though it didn’t happen this year, the performance by Murray that stands out the most in Mancino’s mind occurred during the 2015 indoor season.

Prior to the start of the Doug Quinney Memorial Track and Field Invitational held at Cornell University, it was shared with everyone that the late legendary coach Quinney’s two favorite events were the race walk and the shuttle hurdle relay. West’s Margaret Covley first won the 1,500-meter racewalk and attempted to graciously decline the reception of the inaugural Doug Quinney Memorial racewalk plaque, as she decided to defer this award to the first Section IV racewalk finisher.

The meet directors thanked her profusely for her gesture but encouraged her to keep the plaque because they felt Quinney would have wanted a student athlete of Covley’s character to keep it.

Later on in the competition, the girls 55 shuttle hurdle relay team — which Murray, a sophomore at the time, was a part of — won that event as well, and followed the example set by Covley by also attempting to graciously decline the reception of the inaugural Doug Quinney Memorial shuttle hurdle relay medals.

The meet directors and the foursome from Section IV’s Waverly High School thanked them profusely for their gesture and accepted the medals.

“The gesture above embodied how Kayla and her teammates represented our school community that day, and I will always remember her and her teammates for that,” Mancino said. “The story is the essence of who Kayla is. She always offers her best no matter the circumstances and never wavers. Especially this season, our team would not have been complete without the qualities Kayla brought to it.”

“The coaching staff on the track team is probably what I’m going to miss the most,” Murray said. “[Coach] Mancino does an amazing job and I’m going to miss it terribly. He is so caring and great at what he does.”

Murray was also a vital part of the swimming team, assisting both the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay to earn spots in both the ECIC “AA” and sectional championships. Murray also made ECICs and sectionals in the 100 backstroke this season.

“My favorite memory of Kayla is when I first started coaching her two years ago, and in an effort to motivate her and the team, I used the word ‘gumption’ to explain the attitude the girls needed for a race,” swim coach Kim Covino said. “This word stuck with Kayla and became a way to motivate and make the team laugh at the same time. Kayla is gumption personified; she demonstrates initiative, aggressiveness, resourcefulness, courage and spunk. I will miss her energy and her attitude.”

“My favorite memory on the swim team was probably how all of the girls were super close,” Murray said. “We had so much fun at many sleepovers together, especially the homecoming one. We knew we weren’t the best team and we didn’t win a single meet, but we were probably the happiest team out there.”

Return to top