NEVADA UNION ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017: Chris Bray
It only took one season for Chris Bray to realize high school football was not for him.
After the freshmen football season concluded, legendary Nevada Union coach Tim Kays recruited Bray to the cross country team. It only took two races for Bray to realize distance running is where he belonged.
“Great experiences,” Bray said of his time at Nevada Union High School. “Luckily, the coaching there was fantastic. They took a kid that didn’t know anything and taught him to run circles on the track fast.”
Bray, a 1986 graduate, went on to shine in cross country and track for the remainder of his high school career and on into college.
In cross country, Bray earned All-League honors in 1985 and 1986, was named to the All-Western States Second Team in 1986 and earned honorable mention All-American status that year. He was also the cross country team’s captain and MVP, he won the league title, the subsection title and finished second at the Sac-Joaquin Section race.
On the track, Bray set the school record in the 1,600 with a time of four minutes, 18 seconds as a junior. He would lower that record to 4:13.2 in his senior season. Also in his senior year, he won the league and subsection titles in the 1,600 and 3,200. At Sections he placed second in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200. He would go on to finish ninth in the state in the 1,600.
Despite all his individual accomplishments, Bray said one of his fondest memories from his days at NU was when he, Jon Hottinger and Kevin Marks combined to win the 1987 Sac-Joaquin Section championship as a team.
“We didn’t have enough guys for a relay team and we won the section championship,” Bray said.
Bray looks back fondly on those days.
“I loved my time at Nevada Union,” he said. “High school was awesome, I had a great time. I literally had fun every day at practice, even the brutal days, because we did it together.”
Bray credits Tim Kays with getting him started at NU, and credits coach Clyde Lehman for helping him improve.
“Mr. Kays did a great job of bringing me along, then Mr. Lehman came to the school and he put some speed in my legs,” Bray said. “Mr. Lehman knew how to push my buttons and get me to go faster. He was a phenomenal motivator. He would inspire people to be better than they ever though they could be.”
Bray will be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday.
After graduating from Nevada Union Bray went to Northern Arizona University from 1987-1992 where he competed in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. In 1991, he was a 2-time NCAA National Cross Country Championships qualifier. He was also a member of several Big Sky Conference championship teams. He was a scholar-athlete award winner as well and earned the Big Sky Scholar Athlete Award for cross country and track and field in 1991-92.
After college, Bray delved into duathlons (cycling, running) and found great success as a professional duathlete from 1993-96. He competed in several World championships, finishing 16th in 1993 and 22nd in 1994. He was an All-American duathlete in 1993 and 1994, and was named Arizona Duathlete of the year in 1994 after winning seven of the 17 races he competed in that year.
Bray then went into coaching, first at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona, from 1997-2000 as the women’s cross country coach. His teams reached the National Championships and earned top-seven finishes each year.
He then left coaching for a bit, but returned to it in 2012 when he was hired to start the cross country program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It only took one season for Bray’s teams to start winning conference titles. The men’s team currently has won three straight conference titles and the women have won the last two conference championships. At the 2016, NAIA National championships his men’s team came in 20th and the women’s team came in 26th.
Bray still lives in Prescott, Arizona with his wife of 20 years Cylinda.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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