Photo: Southside High senior Grayson Russell signed a track and field scholarship with the University of Alabama at Huntsville on April 21 at the SHS library. Pictured, sitting, from left: brother Jonathan, Grayson, mom Joy, dad Jason. Standing, from left: SHS assistant track and field coach RoShard Cargill, SHS track and field head coach Ray Cargill. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
In light of Grayson Russell’s blazing speed on the track, it’s appropriate that he’ll continue his athletic and academic career in the Rocket City.
The Southside High senior signed a track and field scholarship with the University of Alabama at Huntsville on April 12 at the SHS library.
“Ever since I was young, it was one of my dreams to run in college,” said Russell, who plans on studying mechanical engineering at UAH. “God puts everybody on this earth for a purpose, and I believe that one of my purposes is to run in college. It’s one of the best ways I can express my thanks to God’s gift to me and His love is to being able to go out and run.”
Specializing in the 100, 200 and 400-meters dash events, Russell was a member of the Panthers’ first-place 4×100-meter relay team that won the gold medal at last month’s sectional meet in Fort Payne. He also won the third-place bronze in the 100-meter dash and finished fourth in the 200-meter dash.
At the Etowah County Schools meet in early April, Russell won both the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash and captured first place in the 4×100-meter relay along with Christopher Butler, Nathan Whitt and Cody Roberts. Russell also finished in the top 10 in 400-meter dash at the Class 6A state indoor meet in early February.
During the abbreviated 2020 season, Russell broke Holt Keeling’s school record in the 100-meter dash of 10.72 with a time of 10.66.
“I’ve had the great honor of coaching Grayson for six years, and that gave me the incredible opportunity to witness first-hand his exceptional character,” said SHS track and field coach Ray Cargill. “Over the last two years, Grayson has been the best and strongest runner that I’ve coached. I first met Grayson when he was my student in the sixth grade before I knew he had any athletic ability, and he was one of those kids that you didn’t have to worry about in the classroom. I’ve seen him accelerate his transition from distance running to sprint events, and it was an amazing thing to watch. He set goals during the offseason and had the heart and the desire to work toward achieving them. He also was not complacent, because he set new goals. Grayson constantly and consistently strives to achieve more. UAB will not be disappointed in what they get in Grayson Russell.”
Russell joins a UAH track and field team that is among the best in the nation. The Blazers finished with regular season ranked 16th in the nation by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and first in the South Region. 2017 Southside High graduate Hunter Nails won the second-place silver medal in the 1500-meter run. Russell will find a couple of familiar faces on the UAH roster with 2020 Etowah High graduate Alex Howard and 2019 Southside High graduate Taylor Nails.
Russell was impressed with how much the Southside track and field program has grown since his varsity career began six years ago.
“When I was a seventh grader, there were maybe six guys on the team, and there’s between 18 and 22. Just being able to see [the program] grow has been amazing.”