, Newburyport, MA


March 14, 2013

Turning the track Gray

Governor's Academy sophomore has strong showing at national track and field championships

BYFIELD — Mackenzie Gray was close to the top of the sport of gymnastics when she enrolled at The Governor’s Academy as a freshman in the fall of 2011.

After nine years of training six days a week for up to six hours per day, she had reached Level 9, serving as a teammate of United States Olympic medalists Ali Raisman and Alicia Sacramone at Brestyan’s American Gymnastics Club in Burlington.

Gray was forced to retire from the sport as part of the Govs’ policy that all students must play a sport for the school in each of the three seasons. The Governor’s Academy does not field a gymnastics team.

Gray joined the soccer, indoor and outdoor track teams last school year, and she is already approaching the top of the sport of track. Last weekend, Gray finished second in the triple jump (38-4) in the Emerging Elites division at the New Balance National Scholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships in New York. She finished as the highest ranked sophomore at Nationals for both the Emerging Elites and championship group, posting the best triple jump of any New England female this season.

Gray’s jumping coach during the outdoor track season, Ray Long, believes her gymnastics background has helped in her quick ascent in the sport of track and field.

“Some of it is definitely gymnastics — having the strength and flexibility,” Long said. “That base helped a lot. Plus, never having done it before, she had no bad habits. She came in and was receptive to whatever techniques we taught. It was like a blank canvas.”

Gray posted her longest triple jump at Nationals by nine inches, which is all the more impressive when considering she had not practiced the event since last spring. The Governor’s Academy does not have a pit in its indoor track facility.

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