Howard, Murphy make history for KY cross country

September 8, 2018 | 4:10 pm

Updated September 10, 2018 | 10:41 pm

Jonah Murphy pushes Peyton Howard to the finish line to become the first racers in KHSAA history to race a stroller in a cross country meet. | Photo by Ryan Richardson

    Peyton Howard and Jonah Murphy may have been the last to cross the finish line, but the pair of fourth-graders made history Saturday at the Owensboro Invitational cross country meet at Yellow Creek Park.

    Howard, who has cerebral palsy but still competes in stroller races, was the first contestant to ever race in a stroller in a KHSAA-related meet — Jonah was the one pushing. (Read more about their story here.)

    Josh Murphy — Jonah’s father and the head coach for the Daviess County Middle School team — was glad his son was part of the experience. With the threat of rain, Josh said they weren’t sure what to expect.

    “He was really excited and nervous to push him,” Josh said. “He didn’t know what the weather was going to be like. All the kids get jitters before a race, so it was just a little bit extra for Jonah knowing he was going to push Peyton. Peyton loves to race, so he wanted to do good for Peyton.”

    Though it was more about breaking new ground with Howard and creating an opportunity for children with disabilities to race, there was a little competition at the end.

    “It was awesome seeing all the support from the people that came out,” Josh said. “It was funny in the finish because there was one boy close to them. Jonah and Peyton wanted to pass them, so it was neat to see them put a little extra in the end when I know he was tired.”

    Jeff Miller, founder of Team Karlie and the one who normally pushes Howard in races, was the biggest proponent for getting Howard a chance to compete. He said the day went even better than he had hoped.

    “I was really touched by the outpouring of support and love everyone showed Peyton and Jonah,” Miller said. “Everyone from teammates to members of other schools encouraged and yelled for them during the race, and they came up and congratulated them afterward.”

    Miller ran alongside Jonah and Howard during the race, but said one of the best moments came after the DCMS team received their first-place trophy.

    “I could tell by the expression on Peyton’s face that he was having a blast, and I couldn’t have been more proud of the effort and determination that Jonah put forth in the race,” Miller said. “Just when I thought things couldn’t have gotten any better, coach Murphy and the DCMS team gave their first-place team trophy to Peyton. It was a very special day.”

September 8, 2018 | 4:10 pm

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