Gray takes Builders Invitational title

Published 9:06 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

Dia Gray came back home last weekend and took first place in the Builders Invitational.

Gray, a former Nansemond River High School wrestling standout, came back to the Hampton Roads area to compete in the Builders Invitational. The Invitational was hosted by the Apprentice School in Newport News.

At the Builders Invitational, Gray took the title in the heavyweight division. The current freshman at Averett University defeated his fellow teammate in the heavyweight division to reach the title match. The decision win over his teammate, John Reid, advanced Gray to the championship against Shakeem Lassiter of the Apprentice School.

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Gray pinned Lassiter in the final to take the tournament. He said winning the Invitational gave him a lot of confidence and described his first college title as amazing. Going forward, Gray hopes to build on this consistently.

This was the second time this season Gray has returned to Hampton Roads to wrestle. He competed in the Virginia Duals and went 2-1 there. The former Warrior felt good about his title last weekend, specifically because his freshman season didn’t start off as well as he had hoped it would.

A knee injury cost Gray the start of his season, and when he was finally able to step on the mat, he was not winning as many matches as he had hoped. That prompted him to have talks with his family, friends and coaches, which helped put him back in good spirits.

From there, he proceeded to compete in his next tournament and place third. Family, friends and old teammates went to support Gray at the Builders Invitational.

“They told me that I have to keep pushing and fighting and keep my head up,” Gray said. “My teammate, Samuel Braswell, told me to stop worrying about the moves and just go out there and wrestle.”

After his Builders Invitational win, Gray feels like he is finally in a rhythm, even though he knows things will not get easier. With conference matches coming up, Gray vows that he is going to step it up each week until nationals in March.

“I just have to keep continuing to give it all that I got and hope for the best,” Gray said.

At Nansemond River, Gray was a four-time conference champion and compiled a 166-18 career record. He was also a 5A Region champion and a Class 5 state runner-up. He signed with Averett in April 2017.