Ohio State sprinter breaks school record held by Jesse Owens
Ohio State sprinter Nick Gray knew all about Jesse Owens. As a student from Pickerington, Ohio, Gray remembers writing reports on the four-time track and field gold medalist.
Owens’ legacy is hard to miss at The Ohio State University as well.
“In the track world, it’s impossible not to know Jesse Owens,” Gray, a fourth-year biology major, said. “He’s everywhere. He’s on the wall in the gym and our track is [Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium]. I mean it’s impossible not to know your history about him.”
That’s why Gray was excited and a little surprised when he learned he broke a school record owned by Owens in the 100 meters. The record time had stood for more than 80 years.
“I didn’t think it would be me that would break it, to be honest. I wanted to, but seeing all the greats that have come before me, I was like ‘I’m not going to get it,’” Gray said.
Gray broke the record with a time of 10.17 in a race at the Gamecock Invitational at the University of South Carolina this month. Gray won a silver medal in a race he said was a struggle.
“The gun went off and I was almost in last place. I had to fight all the way back. [The race] felt fast. But not that fast,” he said.
When he crossed the finish line, his time of 10.17 beat Owens’ school-record 10.2 set in 1936.
“It was big. That’s something a lot of athletes have tried to do over the years and now it has finally been done. It’s big for him,” said Joel Brown, assistant track and field coach at Ohio State. “We knew when he came here, he had talent to do it. But you talk about Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in the Olympics, to break his record, you know it’s a milestone.”
While the 100-meter race is one of his strengths, the 200-meter dash is where Gray excels. He broke a 26-year-old school record at the same event on the same day.
The records add to what is a decorated career at Ohio State. Gray is an eight-time Big Ten champion and a five-time track and field First Team All-American, and has won more than 37 races in his career as a Buckeye.
“Nick has been a pleasure to work with. He’s a great man and he is value-added to this program,” Brown said. “He’s showing up and being prepared every day for whatever is on the plate for him for training. And also he is handling his business off the track because that’s important, for both of those things to be in line with each other.”
Gray is studying to be a dentist when his sprinting career ends. He hopes to start dentistry school at Ohio State after he graduates in a few weeks.
Both Gray and Brown acknowledge the school record that he owns may not last for last for another 80 years. It may not last this season. The team has a talented second-year sprinter in Eric Harrison, who is capable of shattering records on his own.
And if Gray is the holder that record time for only a short while, he’s prepared.
“Records are cool and all, but I know it’s coming down.”