From the moment Sarah Murphy came to grips with the death of Jenna Parlette, she knew she wanted to win an Ohio Athletic Conference championship to honor her fallen friend.
After struggling with injuries in 2014, Murphy made good on promise when she claimed the OAC title in the 100-meter hurdles.
“I crossed the line and instantly I thought of all the hard workouts, the early morning, late nights, the skipping of hanging out with friends to lift, not going out to eat and eating right, and not going out on weekends to catch up with sleep to be ready for the next week; and it was all 1,000 percent worth it to cross that line first,” said Murphy. “Everything I had worked for 1,000 percent paid off, and it was so worth it.”
Her next order of business was to let her friend know it was for her. So Murphy took to Facebook, and wrote a post to Jenna that read, “Hey girl! I miss you oodles. Just writing to tell you that on April 25, 2015, I crossed the finish line first in the 100-meter hurdles to claim the OAC title. I want you to know that this was for you. The day you went to be with Jesus, I made the goal to win an OAC title in your name. Everyone and myself included knew that within your four years at Wilmington, you would win at least one, if not multiple OAC titles. Because you were taken from us so soon, you physically weren’t able to do this. Well on that day, that title was won in your honor. You pushed me every day and without you, I would not have stood up there. So thank you Jenna for your outstanding inspiration. Teammates forever! Love you girl”
Remarkably it wasn’t the event that Murphy felt was her best chance to bring home a crown. Competing against an All-American and two national qualifiers in the 100 hurdles, Murphy always felt her best shot was in the 400 hurdles. However, she was able to put everything together in those 14.74 seconds and claimed the crown.
Now back to the post.
“I have been waiting for that post to win an OAC championship,” said Murphy. “Last year I actually really wanted to win. Since the day she was gone, since I accepted she was gone, I thought I want to win an OAC championship because I know she would have won one – if not more – OAC championships. She was on her way to win three or four OAC championships. I knew it was something I could do, and physically she couldn’t do. So the whole time winning something for her was the motivation in finishing the hard workouts; not quitting early, running through the line, not skipping any lifts and eating healthy. There wasn’t one day, I was doing it for me – I was doing it for her because she never got to do it.”
And now it’s time for Murphy and the rest of the Class of 2015 to do something else that Parlette is unable to do, walk across the Hermann Court stage and receive her degree.
However, Parlette will be getting a degree in memoriam, and her mother, Lisa, will walk across the stage Saturday.
“I’ve talked with Lisa a lot, and she feels once she get the degree that its like a chapter has come to a close,” said Murphy. “We have honored her at Wilmington the perfect amount; not too much where people are overwhelmed, but not little enough to where people have forgot about it. Once she gets that degree, Jenna’s spirit will still live on, but there is not much to do here beside get her the track.”
The Wilmington College Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in conjunction with all 18 teams will continue to honor Parlette in JennaStrong games on campus.
Senior Tricia Steffen knows that Parlette will always live at Wilmington College.
“To me, I don’t feel like it’s the end because her legacy is going to live on and be passed down from class to class,” said Steffen. “She has had such an effect on people that she will continue to have that effect when they hear about her story. Her legacy will be about being the best person you can be. If you put in the time and the hard work, you can do anything. You can do beyond what you thought you could do. She leaves a legacy of being kind to others. And of course, laughter. You have just laugh here and there because life is too short.”