It was only six years ago that Jordan Gray tried out track and field for the first time, having no idea how skilled she would become in the following years.
The homeschooled Gray grew up as a self-proclaimed “basketball girl,” but quickly impressed coaches with her versatility during her senior year of high school. Coming off a major ankle injury during a basketball game, Gray began training at shot put and javelin before trying running events later on.
Though many schools would hesitate to give a scholarship to someone so new to the sport, Eggerth had faith in Gray, who in turn trusted Eggerth to help her become the best athlete she could be.
“My first meet ever was a heptathlon, and I didn’t know what I was doing,” Gray said. “Andy taught me 90 percent of everything I know in all those events.”
All that knowledge Gray soaked in seemed to have an immediate effect, as she earned First-Team All-Conference honors in the heptathlon during her freshman year.
By her junior season, she was winning award after award, earning her first All-America honor and dominating multiple events during both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
But just as she looked forward to capping off her career in 2018, Gray began to suffer from a mysterious medical condition that doctors have not been able to fully diagnose to this day.
“From my neck to my ankles, except on my hands and face, I got these huge welting sores,” Gray said. “Every time I would sweat, I sweat blood.”
Simple tasks such as training and conditioning became excruciatingly painful experiences. Several doctors were called upon to help with treatment. This condition, which lasted around eight months, is still being treated for.
Despite the setback, Gray rebounded and fought to become even better than before during her redshirt senior season. This injury, combined with another injury caused by falling down a flight of stairs during her freshman year, allowed her to come back for one more season.
Gray faced another challenge while coming back from her injury, as the coaching staff on KSU’s track and field team suddenly changed last fall.
By focusing on her past knowledge and abilities, Gray excelled this past season to finish out her career at KSU. Once again, she earned All-Conference honors and led the way both indoors and outdoors.
If there is one thing that has gotten her through all of her trials and tribulations, it is inarguably her strong faith.
“It’s amazing what you do when you work as hard as you possibly can, but you still give it all to God,” Gray said. “I feel like it’s my platform and my role in life to do the best I can at this because that’s what God’s gifted me.”
As for her plans now that her collegiate career is over, Gray is as determined as ever.
Teaming up with Eggerth and his wife Agne, Gray will be training for national tournaments with the goal of making Team USA at the Olympics.
Gray already has a full schedule ahead of her, participating in the Women’s Open Decathlon Championship this Thursday, June 20. After that, Gray will be at the USA Championships, where she will vie for a place on the national team.