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Jun. 1—Gray’s mentality led to school record, Boys Track MVP

Focus and hard work are two things it takes to be successful in the 110-meter hurdles, and Brunswick High sophomore Nick Gray possesses both of those. Those skills elevated Gray to place at state and earn The News’ Boys Track MVP award.

Part of the historic track team that Brunswick put together this season, Gray peaked at the right time as he placed third in state in the 110 hurdles with a 14.52 time and was a thousandth of a second away from second place.

“Nick works extremely, extremely hard, and of course, he’s very gifted,” said Brunswick coach Brian Edwards. “With some athletes, they rely on their talent, but Nick does an excellent job of listening to his coach, and he’s turned into a perfectionist.

“That is what athletes at his caliber — that’s what sets him apart is the fact that he’s a perfectionist. Before the season started, he told me he said, ‘Coach, I’m just different.’ He’s shown it and set himself apart, especially in those events that he participated in this year.”

Gray’s only participated in the hurdles event seriously this season as COVID-19 took it away from him last year. Edwards said he’s one of the key players on that team who has helped get it where it’s at through the last three seasons.

“This was our third year with the program, and to see the gains and projection of where we’re going is excellent. He’s been a catalyst to that,” Edwards said. “This year, he was very aggressive in having some personal goals and also make sure they align with what the team goals were. So they raised the bar for Brunswick High School track.”

His hurdles coach, Willie Bolden IV, said it’s also been his mentality that shifted this year and even said he has the Mamba mentality that so many professional athletes talk about and preach.

“He was just laser-focused and locked in, and I think that had a lot to do with his success this year. He paid attention to the little details, and he came to work every day to get better — no complaints or arguing,” Bolden said. “Whatever the workout was, he got to it.

He would ask questions like, ‘Coach, did I do this right? What do I need to work on?’ He would come to me with some stuff that he would like to work on, and we just got to it. He had almost like a grown man type of attitude when it came to the track this year. It was a big difference from his freshman to his sophomore year.”

Bolden said when Gray shifted his mentality and focus, that’s when the results started to happen. It really showed through at state when he had to go up against the top two runners from Westlake. Bolden said he likes watching how athletes carry themselves before races, and instead of looking nervous, Gray was cool, calm and ready to run the race.

“What I liked about it the most there was a humbleness about him,” Bolden said. “It wasn’t like cocky confidence. It was a humbleness, but he knew what he brought to the table. He just knew he had to keep working on getting to where he wanted to be.”

Gray recently competed in The Night of Champions event, where 16 of the best athletes, regardless of classification, competed. Gray ran a 14.77 in the 110 hurdles and finished fourth. Bolden said after he did that, the sky’s the limit on his potential.

“When he ran at The Night of Champions, he had been practicing football all that because we were in spring ball last week,” Bolden said. “So he didn’t practice going over hurdles or anything that whole week, and he still went out there, ran a great time and finished fourth.

“I immediately texted him after that congratulating him, and I told him that next year, we’re getting under 14, and we’re trying to get to 13 seconds in the 110 hurdles. I think he really has an opportunity to do something really special here. He has two more years, so he’s only going to get better.”