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While on the mat, Gray reaches for the stars

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PHILADELPHIA — Athletes handle lofty expectations in different ways. Some have a hard time dealing with them.

Indian River senior wrestler Derrick Gray embraces the high expectations.

“I like having a target on my back... it’s fun that way,” said Gray, who usually wrestles at 138 pounds.

Going into today’s Frontier League meet against Copenhagen, Gray has amassed a career record of 166 wins and 27 losses, and is close to becoming Indian River’s all-time wins leader. Gray has won 95 of his matches via fall since he started as an eighth-grader in 2008-09. He’s looking to become the school’s first five-time sectional champion.

“It would be nice to be the first five-time sectional champ,” said Gray, who has a 22-1 season record. “There’s only been three I believe in the history of New York.”

While Gray had plenty of success in Section 3, he’s still looking to break through and earn a high finish at the state championships. Indian River coach Jamee Call is pushing to help get Gray in the top three.

“The last few seasons we thought we’ve had shots to get him on the podium, but he for some reason he gets down there (and) doesn’t perform to his capability,” said Call, the 16th-year head coach whose team is 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the league. “I’m hoping we get him over that, and we can definitely get him on the podium.”

Gray is thinking bigger than just a high finish.

“I’d like to win states,” said Gray, currently the top-ranked wrestler in the section according to Cnywrestling.com. “That’s my goal.”

Call has been preparing for Gray for the increased competition of the state tournament.

“We try to give him the tougher of the matches.” Call said.

Gray embraces the challenge of having to take on the toughest opponents that his coach can find.

“I love that,” Gray said. “It’s fun enough taking on a tough kid in close matches.”

In trying to find tougher matches, Call puts Gray into different weight classes. Gray has wrestled at 138, 145 and 152 pounds this season. Call likes the fact that he can plug Gray into different matches.

“It’s great,” Call said. “You can weigh him at one class and wrestle him in another to get him the tougher match.”

Gray is also one who wrestles a unique style. Call said Gray is not afraid to take a risk when on the mat.

“He’s all over,” Call said. “He’s one move to another move to another move. He’s not afraid to roll across his back. He’s not afraid to do things we don’t teach in practice.”

In addition to trying to help the Warriors to a fifth straight “A” Division crown, Gray is trying to mold the next generation of wrestlers.

“I believe they look up to me,” he said. “So I try to be mature when I’m wrestling and act appropriate.”

CARTHAGE’S MARRIN MAKES HALL

Former longtime Carthage wrestling coach Randy Marrin was selected to the Section 3 Wrestling Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Marrin coached the Comets for 22 seasons, amassing 196 wins, and had 33 individual wrestlers earn Frontier League titles. Four Carthage wrestlers also earned sectional crowns under Marrin. He also coached the program to five team Class A championships.

Brian Akley of Oswego, Ben New of Canastota, Lelan Rogers of Fulton, and former Westhill coach John Ryan will also be inducted in Cicero on Nov. 3.

‘PINK-OUT’ TONIGHT

Tonight’s girls basketball game between Immaculate Heart Central and Watertown High School will serve as a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser.

Fan are encouraged to wear pink to support breast cancer awareness. The junior varsity game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., with the varsity to follow, at Case Middle School.

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