After a slow start, Grayson Eady turned his sophomore season into an individual state championship for the Russellville Tigers.
Eady won the TimesDaily Boys Track Athlete of the year after winning a 5A state championship in javelin at Gulf Shores during the state tournament.
He and the other TimesDaily players of the year will be honored at a June 11 banquet at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum where the overall male and female athletes of the year will be announced. Also, the top boys and girls athletic programs also will be announced.
Eady said he is still in shock over winning a state championship, but working hard is in his DNA.
“I worked very hard for it, and I’m proud to have worked like I did to achieve the things I achieved,” Eady said. “It just shows hard work pays off.”
Russellville head track coach Tony Buckhalter said Grayson is someone future athletes should look to for inspiration.
“I feel like Grayson’s journey should be a testament to any athlete who has ever struggled with setbacks and obstacles,” Buckhalter said. “Not only did he succeed, but he was never boastful and is willing to still put in the work.”
Eady has battled Lyme disease, and Buckhalter said he was never fully healthy during the 2018 season. But he continued to work and after a couple of meets in the 2019 season, he was ready to go.
Eady said he only competed in javelin during most meets this season, but the longer the season went on the more comfortable he felt throwing the javelin. Eady broke the sectional record before throwing a personal best, and state-best, 178-feet, 11 inches at the state track meet.
The Russellville sophomore said the behind-the-scenes work is what made him proud as he stood on the podium as 5A’s top javelin competitor.
“Winning state was a great feeling, but to me it meant more than that gold medal and standing on a podium,” Eady said. “It was working through adversity and building myself back up after I fell off. It was a relief to know that I was back being capable of great things as long as I work. Just like everyone has to work to be great.”
Eady heads into his junior year with a goal of defending his title.
Buckhalter said he hopes to see Eady work hard, like he has been, and also bring more state titles to the Tigers track team.
“I hope to see him continue to improve in his craft,” Buckhalter said. “Which would hopefully lead to him staying on top and defending his championship.”