Gray Horn is going where no Waynesfield-Goshen High School athlete has gone before – the Southeastern Conference. Horn recently signed a
letter of intent to compete in track and field for the University of
Florida and will double in the decathlon and pole vault. He's also just the third W-G athlete to compete at the NCAA
Division I level since his father Jon, who set the high jump record at
the Air Force Academy in 1985.
Gray Horn is going where no Waynesfield-Goshen High School athlete has gone before – the Southeastern Conference.
A senior at the tiny Auglaize County school, Horn signed a letter of intent to compete in track and field for the University of Florida last week. He’ll double in the decathlon and pole vault.
Horn is just the third W-G athlete to compete at the NCAA Division I level since his father Jon, who set the high jump record at the Air Force Academy in 1985.
Horn’s family is a force in track and field.
“As a community, as a school and as a family as a whole it’s something that everyone can be proud of,” W-G track coach Jim Epperly said. “Everyone around him has had a part in this.”
“Everyone” would encompass all 675 people that fill the W-G school building. That’s the amount of students, staff and faculty that attend the school daily – K-12.
It’s hard to believe Florida would pursue a track athlete at such a small, rural Ohio school until you look at how big the credentials Horn carries are.
One of the main reasons W-G won the Division III state track title in 2006, Horn has faired no worse than third in the pole vault at the state meet. He finished third as a freshman, won as a sophomore and was runner-up last spring. Horn also has a state title in the 800 relay and has finished second in the high jump and 110 hurdles on the state’s biggest stage. Long jump is another of his disciplines.
Horn (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) also starred in football where he was a four-year starter at receiver and helped the Tigers reach the D-VI postseason twice, including this season. Track though is where his future is.
“You know I could walk-on (at Florida) and be third team on the scout team and get pounded every day,” Horn said. “I think that I’ll stick with track. I think I have a chance for greatness there and hopefully my dreams can come true.”
One already has.
Perhaps the most important criteria for Horn in selecting a school was coaching, and that more than anything may have lead him to Florida. Although he says he was sold when he saw palm trees lining the backstretch of the Gators practice facility, Horn was also swayed by assistant coach Rana Reider.
Reider is a renowned field events coach with collegiate and international experience and currently instructs 2005 World Champ and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Brian Clay. Clay is in the process of moving to Florida and will be training at UF with the Gator track team.
Horn calls Clay his “hero.”
“I’ll get to train with him every day,” Horn said. “That made the decision a little easier too.”
Horn was hounded with interest.
On the first day recruiters were allowed to make contact, Horn received letters from Ohio State, Wisconsin, Auburn, Kent State and Penn State. Six days later, the letter came from Florida. He also considered Louisville.
Horn’s scholarship is the latest in a long line of track successes racked up by his family.
In addition to his father’s prowess, Horn’s mother Kitt still owns the W-G girls high jump record of 5-4 set in 1983. Horn’s younger twin sisters, who are in eighth-grade, combined to set the junior high 100- and 200-meter dash and high jump records last season.
Then there’s Horn’s grandfather. Joe R. Horn started coaching track at W-G in 1960 after an All-American career in football and lacrosse at Oberlin College. He also introduced Gray to track when he was 10 years and deserves a lot of credit for his grandson’s accomplishments.
Gray recalls attending youth events with his grandfather and feeling a rush after winning the high jump with a leap of “like 3-feet or something.” By the time he was in eighth-grade Horn had cleared 13-3 in the pole vault, which was the W-G varsity record at the time.
Horn expects to author similar head-shaking stories when he heads south. He’s also a threat to win multiple events – and maybe lead the Tigers to another team title – at the D-III state meet in June.
“He’s a special kid and a special athlete,” W-G football coach Gary Spencer said. “You always new his talents were going to take him somewhere and you knew early too that track was a good sport for him to pursue.
“I’m sure if he didn’t go somewhere for track, though, he could have gone in a couple other sports if he would have put his mind to it. That’s the kind of kid he is.”
For more on Horn check out the March issue of Ohio High Magazine, due out in late February