2 New Yorkers Take Very Different Paths To First NCAA Title

Rayvon Grey 

Beacon -> Lousiana State University

The Journey

Rayvon Grey ended his senior year as one of the most coveted Long Jump recruits in the country.  Much of that stemmed from his spectacular performance at New Balance Indoor Nationals, where he threw down a major 26-0.25 performance, to win that title. By that time, he had already committed to LSU, after repeatedly jumping over 49-ft in the Triple Jump.  But that Long Jump personal best kept increasing, culminating with the NBIN win, and then Grey would come back with a 25-4.75 to win the Spring State Meet.

Now off to College, and Grey was competing against another level of competition.  Under a new training regimen, he started his career hovering around the mid-to-high 24-foot mark.  He returned to the 25+ club at SEC Indoors his freshman year, placing 7th, and then ramping up again to jump as far Outdoors.  He placed 17th at the NCAA East competition, to end his freshman year.

As a Sophomore, Grey took an abbreviated Indoor Season, before returning to the pits Outdoors.  In May of Outdoors, the 25+ marks were on the higher end, with two marks at 25-5 or better.  Something big was coming.  Placing 6th at NCAA East, Grey gained entry to the NCAA Champs, where a wind-aided mark brought about a new lifetime best, Grey jumping 26-1.5 for a fourth place finish.  It proved what Grey was capable of.

Flash forward to now, with Grey as a Junior, and he entered the NCAA Indoor Championships with the furthest seed in the field.  On January 18th, Grey launched a 26-5.25 mark, and the target rested on his shoulders.  There was some parity now, three years later.  Lining up to jump at the Indoor Champs, his biggest competition was Grant Holloway of Florida State.  Back at New Balance Indoor Nationals, Holloway too was the favorite to win, as well as at Penn Relays that Spring.  Both times, Grey came away with the surprise victory, but this time, he was the favorite.

On Holloway's third jump, he put out a 26-1 performance, thinking he had clinched the title.  Holloway would pass his last three jumps, to focus on the Hurdles and Dash.  But Grey wasn't done.  On his next jump, he answered back with a 26-1.75, clinching the meet.  Three years later, and that motivation from Holloway spurred a lifetime achievement.  Grey has an NCAA Champion, matching the 10-points provided by teammate Mondo Duplantis in the Pole Vault.

Quick Q&A

MSplit: How did it feel to win an NCAA Championship?
Grey: It made me think back to the first time I jumped 26 feet 3 years ago to win Nationals.
MSplit: How did you feel about winning by 1 centimeter (1 inch separated the top 4) and having to sweat out those last attempts?
Grey: Any one of those guys can go over 26 feet at any moment so you've really got to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity"

Performance Highlight