Indianapolis – Some have been circling Madness for months on their calendars, while others have decided to get in the car at the last minute to cheer on seventh-seeded Murray State racers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Inside a crowded hall at Moon Restaurant, almost a block from Gainbridge Fieldhouse, several hours before the game, Blue and Gold loyalists gathered at tables and hugged friends and family. A line spans the door several times during a party sponsored by the Murray State Alumni Association.
Murray State President Bob Jackson said, “It already looks like a home game. And I’m sure it’s the same throughout the evening.”
David Lyons flew from Atlanta to Indianapolis to meet his brother, Robert, a member of the Murray State Faculty. As the racer band started their warm-ups before the Pep Rally, “It’s nice to see everyone, but I know no one here,” said David Lyons. .
On a day like Saturday, everyone in the blue-gold was with family. No matter where they grew up, they were there to cheer and support their team after a heartbreaking 70-60 defeat to the racer family, 15-seeded St. Peter’s Peacocks.
Alumni Carolyn Cash and Ashley Vinyard traveled from Washington, DC to where they now work to reunite with their farm teacher, Dr. Tony Branon.
“It was very exciting,” Vineyard said. “I’m wearing my Murray state gear and a lot of people are cheering me on ‘Go Racers’ giving me stuff.”
Former racer Scott Civils is well aware of the family ties with racers. “It’s amazing that my son (Jackson, Freshman) is playing and watching the racers play, which is unbelievable,” Civils said. “I’ve been playing as a player for three different years and now watching him play is a wonderful feeling. I have never been a part of this (party) as a fan before.
The racer family theme extends to the Civils coaching staff in McCracken County, where he is also new to Roderick Thomas, another former racer, and his son Rod. Rod Thomas became a fan favorite when he saw the playing time this season.
“This is the great family atmosphere we have in McCracken and now in Murray State, where we are able to support our children together,” Civils said.
With racers playing after the Tennessee-Michigan matches, families do not have to worry about divided beliefs as the Wolves and Wolverines are in another area. Nate and Morgan Wilkinson Nate split the difference between his Tennessee Wolves Orange and Morgan in her Blue and Gold, for racers, not for Michigan.
“You can never imagine seeing the states of Tennessee and Murray on the same stage in one day, so it’s very special,” said Nate, who grew up in Franklin, just outside of Nashville.
For Sam and Linda Waters, the decision to watch the game was made after seeing the brackets and venues after Selection Sunday. While Linda Murray is in a state shirt, Sam is adorned with his outstanding Michigan attire. Both blue and gold.
“We covered two games,” Sam joked as they walked into the elevator with their concessions before the Michigan-Tennessee game.
Michigan beat Tennessee 76-68 to advance to the Sweet 16.