VU’s Blackman, Murphy, Thomas have made NCAA destinations official
Vincennes University sophomores Eric Blackman, Robert Murphy and Isaiah Thomas have signed national letters of intent to continue their college track and field careers at the NCAA Div. I level.
Blackman, a heptathlete and decathlete, and Thomas, who specializes in the long jump, will move on to Purdue University while Murphy, a NJCAA All-American in cross country and the 3000 Meter Run in track and field, signed during last fall’s early signing period to join the distance running-oriented IUPUI track and field program and the Jaguars’ cross country team.
Blackman, Murphy and Thomas are all ranked in the national Top 10 in at least one event.
“Like many of our student-athletes, Robert, Eric and Isaiah came to VU as outstanding high school competitors who had incredible potential to be even better,” said VU Coach Chris Gafner. “All three dedicated themselves to be among the best in multiple events throughout the NJCAA ranks and they have certainly achieved that goal.
“These young men have set and broken VU school records and I appreciate their efforts to be competitive with the best in the country,” he added. “Robert, Eric and Isaiah have been exciting and high-quality people to work with.”
Warsaw, IN, native Murphy has established himself as one of VU’s most decorated track and field and cross country competitors over the past two years. He added to his string of 2015 accolades Saturday when he established a new NJCAA season mark and shattered his own VU school record in the 3000 Meter Steeplechase at the Billy Hayes Invitational, hosted by Indiana University. Murphy’s time of 8:57.59 broke his previous school record by 16 seconds and placed him atop the NJCAA scene by 12 seconds over his nearest competitor.
Murphy was an indoor NJCAA All-American with a runner-up performance in the 3000 Meter Run, while finishing third in the One Mile Run and helping the Trailblazer Distance Medley Relay team to a top-10 showing at the indoor championships earlier this spring. He earned his second NJCAA All-American award at the Half Marathon National Championships last fall. That effort followed an excellent 2014 cross country season.
Evansville native Blackman finished fifth in the heptathlon with 4,697 points at the 2015 NJCAA Indoor National Championships in March. He also finished seventh nationally in the indoor high jump at 6 feet, 9.75 inches.
Thomas, who hails from Wanatah, IN, was injured during competition at the 2015 NJCAA Indoor National Championships and finished seventh in the long jump at 23 feet, 9.5 inches. However, that effort while battling an injury followed a VU record-setting indoor season in which he turned in an indoor leap of 25 feet, 2.5 inches at the Indianapolis Challenge in late January. Thomas’ 2015 indoor season also included jumps of 24 feet, 11.75 inches at the Greyhound Track and Field Classic and 24 feet, 7.75 inches, at the Grand Valley State Big Meet.
In early March, Murphy and Thomas were among the inaugural class of Region Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2015 NJCAA indoor track & field season. The honorees were announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), as voted on by the NJCAA’s coaches.
At the time of the selections, Murphy was second on the NJCAA season list in the One Mile Run and 3000 Meter Run, while being fifth nationally in the 800 Meter Run, seventh in the 1000 Meter Run and on the seventh-ranked (VU) DMR team. He holds school records in every event, 800 through 3000 Meters.
Thomas was second on the NJCAA season list in the long jump with a season best of 25-2½ (7.68m). He had broken the Vincennes University school record three times in that event during the indoor season.