Vivian Omyori had long been telling her son to join the track and field team. As the now 12-year-old Bray was growing up, he was playing just about every sport available, and he continues to play football, basketball and baseball.
But in February, Bray finally told his mother he was ready to try the sport in which many of his relatives had excelled.
“My whole side of the family ran track,” Omyori said. “We are runners. I always wanted him to do track. That was my No. 1 sport. I come from a track-running family, but he wasn’t interested. This year he told me, ‘Mommy, I’m going to do it. I’m going to make you proud.’”
Bray took to track and field as naturally as his mother thought he would. He tried out several events, but the high jump and 80-meter hurdles are where he couldn’t be beat.
Bray, who competes for the Sequoyah Junior Chiefs program, finished first in his age group (11-12 boys) in both events at every regular-season meet, as well as the area meet, state meet in Carrollton and regional meet in South Carolina. He will now go on to compete in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics, which begin Monday in Houston.
Often, when athletes gear up for their first trip to a national event, they simply want to learn from the experience and return as veterans in the future.
That isn’t Bray’s approach.
“I am going to try my best to win,” he said. “I could learn better technique, but I really want to win.”
If he had a favorite event, Bray would choose the high jump, but he’s glad that isn’t a choice he has to make. The 5-foot-6 Bray’s personal record in the high jump is 5 feet.
The year hasn’t been without challenges.
Because the track at Sequoyah High School was being resurfaced, Bray trained at River Ridge for most of the spring and into the summer. After the school year ended, he was no longer able to practice at River Ridge and then began working out at Cherokee. Even that had its challenges, as the Cherokee track doesn’t have a high jump pit.
For the last two weeks, Bray has been practicing at Creekview.
“The crazy thing is, the last time that he practiced the high jump or the hurdles was in May,” Omyori said. “He keeps coming in first place in both those events.”
Omyori said Bray now realizes why she wanted him to try track for so long.
“It’s in my blood,” Bray said.
Bray recently completed sixth grade at Holly Springs Elementary and will start attending Dean Rusk Middle School in August. He plans to continue playing football and basketball, but he certainly won’t be cutting out track.