The trio of Robert Murphy, Jake Poyner and Ellis Coon did some absolutely amazing things during their high school cross country and track careers.
The three former WCHS distance stars are carrying on that success now at the Division I level collegiately.
The trio all were major factors for their respective track teams recently in conference championship meets with Murphy at IUPUI, Poyner at Lipscomb University in Nashville and Coon at Tulsa University.
Murphy, a junior, won a pair of events in the Summit League Championships held in South Dakota. He claimed a title in the 1,500 in a time of 3:53.39 a day after winning the steeplechase championship.
Poyner, also a junior, placed second in the 1,500 in a time of 3:52.10 in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships. He was also third in the 5K with a time of 15:16.64.
Coon, now a sophomore, was third in the 1,500 in the American Athletic Conference Championships in a time of 3:51.39.
Murphy, who was the Co-MVP of the IUPUI cross country team last fall, finished his incredible track season in impressive fashion Friday night. Murphy placed fourth in his heat and 15th overall in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event at the NCAA East Regional in Jacksonville, Florida. Murphy shaved almost nine seconds off his school record time by going 8:47.87 and just missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
“I had a good feeling about the race beforehand,” said Murphy in an article posted on the IUPUI Athletics website after Friday night’s amazing performance. “More than anything, I’m happy I achieved my goal of a new PR. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the race itself, but overall, I’m happy.”
“Robert ran great. He came in here ranked like 40th overall and leaves here 15th and just seconds away from qualifying for Oregon,” IUPUI Head Coach Chuck Koeppen said. “Honestly, I’ve never seen the kid run a bad race.
“He’s had an outstanding year and I’m anxious to see what comes next for him next year.”
The road to success on the collegiate level has included its fair share of twists and turns for all three of these outstanding young men. Murphy spent his first two seasons at Vincennes University, while Poyner began his collegiate career at Wake Forest University. Coon originally committed to Temple University, before opting to head to Tulsa.
Murphy is the one who boasts quite the inspiring story. The standout was diagnosed with autism at age three and moved to Warsaw from Wisconsin at age five. He began running in middle school and quickly improved tremendously in high school under the coaching of Mills and his close friendship with the ultra classy Poyner. The two close friends even share the same birthday on July 15, 1994.
The trio, who were affectionately known as “The Big Three” in high school, left quite the legacy at WCHS. They led coach Jim Mills’ cross country team to a fourth place finish at the State Finals in 2012, the highest finish ever for the program. Poyner was sixth overall at State that year, while Coon was eighth and Murphy 14th.
The duo of Poyner and Murphy, as seniors, were key cogs as coach Matt Thacker’s track team captured a fifth place finish in the State Finals in 2013. Poyner placed third in the 1,600 and fifth in the 3,200 at the meet at IU, while Murphy was fourth in the 1,600 and seventh in the 800. Coon was injured his junior season and missed track season.
Coon returned for his senior season and was third overall at the cross country State Finals in 2013. He also went on to finish third in the 1,600 at the track State Finals in 2014 to finish his high school career.
Murphy is the son of Jeff and Lynn Murphy, while Poyner’s parents are Timothy and Susanne and Coon’s are Michael and Christine.