MISSOULA — Audrey McElmurry is simply continuing the family tradition.
The McElmurry family has a long line of NCAA Division I athletes, and the Missoula Sentinel senior is the latest to join that club as she announced her commitment to Sacramento State to continue her track and field career.
"Throughout the whole recruiting process the coaches have been super great about staying in contact with me," McElmurry, who added the coaching staff was a big reason why she chose the Hornets, told MTN Sports. "You could just see the coaches are very positive. They have had a lot of athletes come into the school and progress a lot further being there, so I could kind of see how the coaches were able to progress these athletes and I thought it was a place I was going to be able to do well, as well."
McElmurry accepted a scholarship to compete for the Hornets, who compete in the Big Sky Conference alongside Montana and Montana State. Along with her offer from Sac State, McElmurry said she also had an offer from MSU for track and field.
The Hornet coaching staff -- including jumps coach Carl Caughell and head coach Kenny McDaniel -- initially reached out to McElmurry at the beginning of the school year to begin the recruiting process. Through phone calls and Zoom meetings, McElmurry said she was able to connect with the coaches and meet with athletes already on Sac State's team where she was able to get a feel for what the program had in store.
Sac State's women's team won the 2019 indoor Big Sky championships and placed second in 2020. The women also won the 2019 outdoor title in Missoula.
However, juniors and seniors in Montana were dealt a blow in the spring of 2020 when the high school track and field season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who were hoping to improve marks or times in order to get recruited were now put in a difficult spot, including McElmurry, whose junior season was lost.
"I had always known that I had wanted to do track in college but, with junior year getting canceled, I was a little worried about how everything was going to go with recruiting and I didn't know if I was going to have to wait until after my senior year of track to end up signing somewhere," McElmurry said. "But I think it was just kind of a blessing. I didn't have to send any film or anything. I was just contacted by a couple of schools and so I thought that was really cool, because I was worried originally if I was going to be able to get recruited because my sophomore marks were fine but I knew I could go farther."
Along with continuing the family success in athletics and earning a scholarship, McElmurry wanted an opportunity to go out of state after high school with California as a destination spot. McElmurry said she wants to study biology or microbiology and go into pre-med and ultimately work toward dermatology or orthopedic surgery, adding that has been a career path she has been eyeing for the past couple of years and has taken advanced classes while at Sentinel, some of which will earn her college credit.
"Some of the classes I've even taken in high school have also made me want to do something in the medical field even more," McElmurry added. "So I'm just excited because I think that's a degree I'll really end up liking and it will be challenging, but I think it will be a really good challenge."
Normally a three-sport athlete, McElmurry just completed her final year on the soccer pitch for Sentinel where she was a starter. She said she is opting to pursue indoor track and field this season instead of basketball, with outdoor track and field in the spring.
After doing gymnastics at a young age for seven years, McElmurry got her start in track because of the similarities she found with the jumping events and hurdles. After seeing the success her sister, Ashley -- a three-time individual state champion -- found with track, Audrey began to take track and field more seriously in high school as she pursued the possibility of competing after high school.
Now, she'll continue the family business of competing at the college level. Audrey's sister Ashley McElmurry currently competes in track and field at the University of Nebraska. Her father, Blaine McElmurry, played football at Montana while her mother, Kristine (Wetterling) McElmurry, competed in track and field for the Grizzlies. Her uncle Travis Walker, Missoula Loyola's boys and girls basketball coach, is also an ex-Griz football player and her aunt Catie (McElmurry) Walker played basketball for the Lady Griz. Another uncle, Brian Wetterling, also competed in track and field at UM.
At Sac State, Audrey will compete in jumps and possibly add in hurdles.
As a sophomore in 2019, McElmurry finished in third place in the 300-meter hurdles while her sister won the state title. Audrey McElmurry ran the race in 45.78 seconds. She also took sixth in the triple jump with a mark of 37 feet, 1.5 inches and ran a leg on Sentinel's 4x400-relay team that placed fifth.
For her indoor season, McElmurry isn't sure how much she'll get to compete with traveling and meets still up in the air due to COVID-19, so, for now, she's focused on her training with her eyes set on her senior high school season in the spring of 2021.
Then, it's on to California.
"I feel very lucky and blessed to have this opportunity," she said. "I didn't know if I was going to be able to do this and so it was super neat that it was a school in a place that I wanted to go to college."