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Decorated Perham runner Hurley has two more chances to add to collection of state, section medals

Perham senior distance runner Keeghan Hurley shows some of the medals he has collected during his high school career, which winds down this weekend at the Minnesota Class 1A state track and field meet. David Samson/Forum News Service

Perham senior runner Keeghan Hurley approached Ted Meinhover Field at Perham High School on Wednesday. With a 2012 cross country national championship ring shining on his right hand and a plaque with some of the 34 section and state medals he’s earned in his high school career, Hurley’s eyes locked on to the track.

He was home and he was ready to represent it one more time at the Minnesota Class 1A track and field meet on Friday and Saturday at Hamline University.

“I always loved this track,” Hurley said. “In eighth grade, my dad and I would always sneak in here when the Perham track practice was over and train. It’s crazy to think I’ve done my last workout on it. It’s been so much fun to be a Yellowjacket.”

When Hurley transferred from Fergus Falls to Perham before his sophomore year, he sat at the finish line on a summer day on the very track he was saying goodbye to Wednesday and promised himself he would do everything he possibly could to win a title in track and cross country.

Friday and Saturday will decide if he fulfills that promise.

“Even when I was at Fergus, I felt like a Yellowjacket,” Hurley said. “I just had that feeling, so as soon as I got here and the team welcomed me and I started winning, it felt right that I was winning it for the Yellowjackets.”

Before Hurley heads to Southern Utah University to run in college, he has two state races left in the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run. His section meet time in the 1,600 was the second-fastest in the state and his 3,200 section time was fourth among all section times.

“I have 12 laps of my high school career left,” Hurley said. “The goal for this state meet is to win both titles.”

Titles are what the Hurley family does.

Keeghan was part of a Fergus Falls swimming team that won a state title in 2011, Perham cross country teams that won state and national titles the past two seasons to go along with an individual cross country state title this season with Perham. He has 34 Minnesota section and state medals, which would be 37 if swimming gave out team medals and who knows how many if he didn’t have to sit out a year of swimming, cross country and track as a sophomore or didn’t decide to leave swimming as a junior.

Between Keeghan’s mom, Ann, and dad, Don, who both ran at the University of Minnesota, his brother, Michael, who swam at Indiana University and his sister, Meghan, who swam at University of North Dakota, there are 98 Minnesota section and state medals.

For Hurley, it wasn’t all about the medals. He remembers idolizing Moorhead runner Lukas Gemar when he was young. Three kids came up to Hurley at the sub-section meet this season and asked for his autograph and Hurley could see the tables turning.

“You can run fast and inspire people and you can get people to get their dreams,” Hurley said. “I remember when I got here coach (Jeff) Morris talked about (Perham runner, who ran at the University of Minnesota) Kevin Lachowitzer to the guys every single year. Now I’ve made my mark, so maybe he’ll talk about me. I broke both of Kevin’s records this season and maybe there was a little kid watching me run and maybe it’s his turn to come and break a record.”

Cross country coach and assistant track coach Jeff Morris will make sure Hurley is remembered.

“I’ll be able to talk for years to come about how hard he worked and how big he dreamed,” Morris said. “He’s got the school record in the mile, two mile and fastest time in cross country. Kevin was a guy that said I want to be the best statewide. Keeghan wants to compete with the best in the nation. He shows that just because you come from a town this size and a small school doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish what the big schools can.”

Hurley looked around at the Perham track and remembered the one race he lost on it. It was a 400-meter dash, something a distance runner doesn’t usually do. For someone like Hurley, who remembers the few losses as much as the countless victories, motivation is always within eyesight.

“If I get my two state medals, my family will have 100,” Hurley said. “No one in my family has won a track title.”

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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