Jacob Gray is a senior middle distance runner for the Metamora boys track and field team. Last year, he was part of Metamora’s fourth-place state medal 4x400-meter relay and ninth-place 4x800 team. This year, he leads the Journal Star honor roll in both the 800 (1:58.63) and 1600 (4:32.10) and is a key member of a Redbirds squad that seeks a fifth consecutive Mid-Illini Conference title on Tuesday. Next year, he plans to run cross country and track at Illinois State University and major in social work.

Journal Star reporter Stan Morris asked Gray five questions:

1 What is it like for you to compete on a team with such great distance running history and a strong distance crew this year? How do you guys motivate each other?

“I think both our history and motivation are due to our amazing coaching staff. Coach (Gene) Jones and Coach (Chuck) Danner have been coaching for quite some time between the two, and our success is due to what they’ve built. Also, our distance coach, Eric Potter, volunteers so much of his time to working with us. We’re lucky to have all three of them, not to mention all of the assistant coaches and other volunteers. As a senior and a captain I’ve done my best to help pass down the work ethic that I developed from older teammates and continue the hardworking atmosphere.”

2 What are your goals for this season?

"The goal I’ve been working towards is to win the state title in the 800 meters."

3 What makes the 800 such a great race, in your opinion?

“The 800 forces you to run on instinct more so than other distance events because there’s not a lot of time to think.”

4 What has been the highlight of your season to date?

“The highlight of my season so far has been finishing fourth in the 800 and fifth in the 4x400 at Illinois Top Times.”

5 What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of the track?

“I love Manchester United and Game of Thrones. My favorite pro athlete is Cristiano Ronaldo."