McDonald’s Gray follows in footsteps of great throwers

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo McDonald’s Zach Gray poses with his discus. He won the event Saturday at the Bulldog Invitational in East Palestine.

EAST PALESTINE — Mary Domitrovich glances up from her clipboard, seeing one of her throwers compete.

Sometimes it’s about the numbers. Not in this case.

Positioning and consistency, those are two staples of a McDonald thrower.

Zach Gray has felt the discus leave his hand and travel 158 feet. It went 10 feet less than that on Saturday, but resulted in a first-place finish at the Bulldog Invitational.

Pressure. He’s felt his fair share with McDonald names like Matthias Tayala and Christian Smith being state champions this decade.

He made state last season, but didn’t make finals.

“To compete at the top level, I’ll have to throw 170 this year,” Gray said.

As a junior, is his name going to be etched in the McDonald record books?

He looks to Domitrovich, the team’s throw coach.

“All credit goes to coach Mary,” Gray said.

Don’t let him fool you. Beyond the golden, curly hair and 5-foot-11 frame lies a bit of a jokester.

Domitrovich said he knows where the fine line lies. Well, maybe?

“Sometimes I take it too far,” Gray said with a smile.

Seriously, his lighthearted nature helps him keep his teammates in good spirits. It’s not just Gray.

“This group of boys, it’s a special group,” Domitrovich said. “There’s so much personality. They complement each other. When one’s down, they pick the other one up.”

That’s what Gray does for this McDonald squad, but relies on Domitrovich to be that stable force.

“Nothing bad, just little quirks here or there to keep all of his teammates in a good mood,” she said.

Along the way, Gray gives his thumbs up, down or other gesture to describe how he’s doing.

“I think we’re playing baseball with hand motions from here to there,” Domitrovich said.

She’s hoping for more of those thumbs up like she’s seen lately. So is Gray.

“We’ve been blessed to have a good number of throwers come through, not just with talent, but personality that’s been strong role models,” Domitrovich said.