Rikki Gray will walk out of ETHS having achieved what most high school athletes can only dream of: a state championship. Last year at the IHSA track and field championships, Gray, together with fellow senior teammates Jackie Okereke, Dawson Wright and Jasmine Wright combined forces to take the state title in the 800-meter relay with a time of 1 minute and 40.47 seconds. Interestingly, Gray holds the distinction of being one of two members of the foursome who will go on to run track in college, which she will do at Chicago State University.
“Running at a college level has always been a goal of mine. I have put so much work and effort into the sport, I don’t see a reason to stop now,” reflects Gray.
As a Division I institution less than 25 miles from ETHS, Chicago State had been on Gray’s radar for a long time as it provided the perfect combination of attributes she was looking for. As a student next year, Gray plans on pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice, which she will do on a full-tuition scholarship.
“It was the only school that gave me a full ride, it’s close to home like I wanted, and the school does a lot of partner work with [the Chicago Police Department], which is good for what I want to major in,” explains Gray.
With the horizon that is college drawing nearer each and every day, it’s been easy for seniors to reminisce about their time at Evanston recently. For Gray, the social aspect of athletics as well as the identity-affirming educational opportunities she has been involved in stand out as things that she will remember particularly fondly.
“I will miss all the events that ETHS has hosted. I will miss going to sports events, pep rallies and the Black student summits,” Gray states.
But when it comes to track in particular, the nostalgia all draws back to that moment last year.
“My number one highlight of track at ETHS is being so close with all of my teammates. Winning state with people I have grown to love and consider my family is the best feeling in the world.”