McDonald’s Gray comparing favorably to Blue Devil greats

COLUMBUS, OHIO - JUne 1, 2018, OHSAA Track & Field Championships at Jesse Owens Stadium, Ohio State University- D3 McDonald's Zach Gray throws the discus during D3 competition. MICHAEL G. TAYLOR | THE WARREN TRIBUNE CHRONICLE

COLUMBUS — Zach Gray admitted he’s nervous when he steps inside the discus ring.

A couple of turns, flick of the wrist and there goes the metal disc.

The McDonald junior thinks of his school’s legends like Christian Smith and Matthias Tayala. It’s hard not to do. They are Blue Devil state champions in Division III.

Tayala’s mark of 196 feet, 3 inches lies out there as the state meet record set in 2011 as he and Miles Dunlap combined to win a team state title for McDonald.

Smith set the state record at a meet in Berlin Center in 2015 and still holds the mark at 203-9. He too is a state champion.

You’d be nervous too, living in the shadow of those legends.

“It’s insane,” said Gray, who took fourth Friday in the boys discus with a throw of 160-3 — his second throw in the finals.

He also finished fifth in the boys shot put with 51-8 — his first throw of preliminaries.

It was a good thing the shot put came first at 1 p.m., while the discus went off at 4 p.m.

“It calms me down,” he said after the shot put. “I feel I’m more excited now going into disc. Just got to get something to eat and I’ll be good.”

This was a better state meet than last year when he didn’t qualify for state in the shot put and didn’t make finals in the discus.

“I can’t ask for a better day than today. Hopefully next year I come back even stronger,” Gray said.

GOOD DISTRACTION: Cardinal Mooney junior Kyle Jornigan is used to being an offensive tackle on one of the best lines in the area. He loves football, but sometimes you need a break.

Enter the shot put.

Jornigan went 53-1 in the Division II boys shot put to place fifth.

“Track is a good alternative,” he said.

He fouled three of his first four throws. There are three in preliminaries and three in finals. His fifth-place throw was his last.

The pit outside Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium is someplace he wants to be in 2019.

“Anytime you can come for state in any sport is huge,” he said. “I’m glad to be here. Hopefully I move up a few places next year.”