One of the most successful, impactful members of a very talented track program, Washington High School recent graduate, Alexis Gray, on Wednesday signed a letter of intent to attend Wittenberg University.
At the Division III school in Springfield, Ohio, Gray will continue her education and athletic career as a member of the Tigers’ track and cross country teams.
Gray is one of the most accomplished athletes in the long Blue line of athletes in Washington High School history.
Gray qualified to the State track meet all four years in a total of seven events. In 2016, she qualified to State in the 4 x 2 and 4 x 400-meter relays and the 400-meter dash; as a junior, she reached the State in the 800-meter run and 4 x 400-meter relay; as a sophomore and a freshman, she was a member of the State-qualifying 4 x 400-meter relay team.
She won the SCOL cross country title all three years she was a member of the team (her sophomore, junior and senior seasons). She qualified once to the State meet in cross country and was a three-time Regional qualifier.
In track, Gray was a 13-time SCOL champion (out of a maximum possibility of 16 events).
During the past four seasons, Washington won three SCOL track titles, two District championships and was runner-up twice and placed in the top 10 four years in a row at the Regionals.
Gray also played basketball for four years and was a member of the soccer and cross country teams for three years.
“I had a really good experience in high school,” Gray said. “In soccer, we didn’t win all the time, but, we still always had fun. Cross country, I wish I had done that my freshman year, maybe even in middle school. I really liked it.
“Track and basketball, I’m just glad I did those both for four years,” Gray said. “They are both sports that I really like.
“I loved the experience of going to State,” Gray said. “It was fun. It was a great opportunity. It was a challenge. All of the girls at State are fast; you just have to run with them and do what you always do.
“I don’t regret a single moment,” Gray said. “I’m thankful I did all the sports I did.”
“I liked Wittenberg more than any other school,” Gray said. She also was looking at Wright State, Marshall and the University of Cincinnati.
Looking ahead, Gray was asked about the amount of effort it’s going to take to be successful at the next level.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of effort,” Gray said. She does not yet know what events she will compete in at Wittenberg.
“She can run anything,” Washington head coach Louis Reid said.
“I’m a sprinter now,” Gray said. “I can run anything.
“I love Coach Reid,” Gray said. “I couldn’t have had another coach better than Coach Reid. His workouts may be hard, he may be tough on us, but, look at us; we’re a fast team. We’ve gone to State every year. I recommend a lot of the girls to come out and run for him. He’s a great coach.”
Gray had words of encouragement for future and potentially future athletes at Washington.
“I would tell them they should at least try it in middle school,” Gray said. “And middle school is different than high school, so, if you tried it in middle school, at least try it for one year in high school. It depends on the sport. But if it’s track, you’ll probably end up loving track no matter how hard it is. Cross country is not easy, either, but, you can still run one 5K or two miles (in middle school) and see if you like it and then keep going. I never thought I’d be able to run 3.1 miles (5,000-meters) and I do it.”
Each of her years at Washington, Gray competed with a procession of fine athletes and wondered about the team’s prospects for the following year as they graduated ahead of her.
“We thought every year, ‘oh, we’re losing a good group of girls,’” Gray said. “We were always losing someone and we were still good. It just how he does the workouts; how you train your body and how you think. Your mind is everything. You can’t have a negative mind and be like, ‘oh, we’re not going to win.’ That was us a couple of years and we still came out and we still won. Sometimes you’re not always going to win everything. It also comes down to how you do individually, too.”
Move-in day at Wittenberg is August 18. Gray will begin her college career without declaring a major.
“I’d like to thank all of my family members,” Gray said. “I’d like to thank my grandma, Mary and my dad, especially, for always being there and telling me that I can do it.
“I’d like to thank my grandma Nancy (Bowden) for always telling me, ‘you can do it; you’re doing great; keep it up.’
“I’d like to give a big thank you to Coach Reid,” Gray said. “And also Coach (Corey) Dye and Coach (Colt) Harrington for pushing me through the workouts. I’d like to thank anyone that’s ever coached me or that has told me that I can keep going — my family and my friends and coaches.”
Outside the realm of athletics, what were a couple of her favorite subjects in high school?
“I actually really liked math,” Gray said. “It’s probably the only subject I really liked. That and sometimes government, it depends on what we were doing in there. But, I don’t know, I never used to be good at math, and then it just hit me. It depends on what we were doing in math. Some things I struggled with, but I would ask for help and I would get it.”
Gray was asked if she had a favorite math teacher or a favorite teacher in general.
“I don’t really have a favorite teacher,” Gray said. “I like all my teachers equally.”
“It was really great and a great honor, to coach Alexis,” Reid said. “She has a bubbly personality; she works extremely hard and she wants to be the best. That pretty much sums it up. And she is a good student. She had over a 3-point GPA, as well as qualifying to State in track and cross country. She was a pretty good basketball player, and a good soccer player, too. She excelled at whatever she did.
“She’s just one of those rare athletes that come along that’s good at whatever they do,” Reid said. “She has that internal drive that, she wants to beat everyone out there.
“She leaves our track program holding six records,” Reid said. The records are: as a member of the 4 x 1600-meter relay, the 4 x 200-meter relay, the 4 x 400-meter relay, the 800-meter run, the 1600-meter run and the 2000-meter steeplechase.
“That’s a lot of records,” Reid said. “She was successful in whatever event we put her in.
“I’m glad she’s going to be able to continue her academic and athletic career at Wittenberg,” Reid said. “They have an outstanding program. She’ll get a good degree and she’ll have success. Laike Wallace, one of our Blue Lion alumni, has run the past four years at Wittenberg. He’s been an NCAA qualifier in the hurdles.
“She’ll join the ranks of a lot of Blue Lion athletes who’ve competed in college,” Reid said. “Jessica Guyett recently graduated from Robert Morris. She’s a record-holder there; she was league champ in shot put this year.
“Ashley Lovett is competing for Wilmington College,” Reid said. “She was league champ in the 400-meter hurdles for them. Maggie Dellinger runs in college.
“We’ve had a lot of kids go on and I think Alexis will be successful in college, also,” Reid said. “It takes a certain type of athlete who wants to continue on and compete in college. She has the right mindset. She be on the cross country team, then she’ll go right into indoor track and then to the outdoor season.
“Now that she’s focusing just on running, I think she’ll be even more successful,” Reid said.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1