A Kennedy First: Class of 2026 Adam Gray Breaks Two Freshman Records His First Year


Jersey Bilyeu

Freshman Adam Gray runs five kilometers for cross country, a race in which he holds the freshman record.

To have a record in cross country or track at Kennedy is an impressive feat, especially as a freshman. Adam Gray, class of 2026, has held not only one freshman track record, but two, and nothing is stopping him from setting more.

Gray has run competitively since his eighth-grade cross country season at Harding Middle School. Despite his seventh-grade season having been taken by Covid, this was not his first time running.

“I’ve been doing triathlons and Turkey Trots since I was six or so,” Gray said. “My sisters always ran and I guess they always inspired me.”

With two older sisters who ran for Kennedy and supportive, athletic parents, Gray has been surrounded by running since a young age. This is when his interest in running peaked and his journey towards success began. 

“I’ve set the cross country record for freshmen and the 3200 [in track],” Gray said. “I’m hoping to get the 1600 by the end of the year.” 

At the Linn-Mar Cross Country Invitational this September, Gray beat the previous freshman record time of 16:42 with a time of 16:32, covering a distance of five kilometers (3.1 miles). He then beat his own time at the end of the season, coming in at 16:12. 

On April 8, Gray ran a time of 10:11 at the Draxton-Stiers Invitational, beating another freshman record of 10:14, this time in the 3200 Meter Run. This record has since been beaten by Gray’s freshman teammate, Slader Buckheister, at the Xavier Co-Ed Invitational on April 25, running 10:05.47. This is the first time in Kennedy history that a freshman record was set twice in the same season. 

Sports like cross country and track have their ways of building bonds between a team and maintaining the athletes’ enthusiasm.

“Being part of a team, running with a team, it’s what gets you to come every day,” Gray said. 

In order to further enjoy and grow in running, Gray receives support from Boy’s Track coaches Curtiss Pakkebier or ‘Pakk’ and Brian Annis.

“They do a good job of creating the workouts,” Gray said. “During the workouts, they help us set goals on what we should run.”

For Gray to reach his goal of breaking the 1600 record, he’ll need a time shorter than 4:41. His current personal record is 4:47. Gray’s goals are supported with the encouragement from his coaches. “They always bring a good lively spirit to practice,” Gray said. 

Not only is Gray an amazing athlete, but he also is an incredible teammate. He says that the coaches encourage strictly friendly competition within the team in order to keep team bonds positive rather than sour. Pakk sees Gray’s strength and positivity at practices and meets alike. “He’s a hard worker, nice kid,” said Pakk.

“Competition with Adam has only gotten us closer and has never gotten in the way of our friendship,” Buckheister said. “In my opinion, the competition for freshman records has only improved our performance on the track.”

There are many lessons to be taken from Kennedy Track—knowing and testing limits, maintaining health and sportsmanship. Using all to his benefit this season, Gray can summarize what he’s learned from track in a single sentence; “It’s just taught me to be a great person.”