has competed in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Outdoor Track & Field State Championships four times, she never takes an appearance on the big stage for granted.
The senior at White Plains (Anniston, Ala.)
knows how hard it is to advance to state, and every year she works even harder at her niche event and in the weight room.
In Young's four appearances at state – the last three years in javelin – she has improved her place every year. After last season's sixth-place finish in the javelin, Young is dreaming of capping her final year in high school at the top of the podium.
"I think it's a really big deal, because our school only has two state championships in golf these past two years, and going to state every year has gotten me ready for state this year," said the 17-year-old Young. "Hopefully, I can bring home the third (state championship)."
The way Young has been throwing, a state title certainly seems within striking distance.
"She's a hard worker, has her goals set and she knows what she needs to do to reach those goals," said Grey's mom, Krista Young, who is also the White Plains track and field coach. "She's very driven."
Young made it to state as an eighth-grader, running in the 4x400-meter relay for the Wildcats. In her freshman season, she wanted to branch out into an individual event and latched onto javelin after playfully making a few throws one day in practice.
"I tried all the field events and that one seemed to be the one I was decent at," Young said.
As a freshman, Young advanced to state in the 4x400 relay as well as the javelin, placing 20th in 3A with a top toss of 76 feet, 4 inches. Young concentrated on javelin as a sophomore and shied away from running events, making it back to the state meet. She finished ninth in 4A with a throw of 98-04, which was 22 feet better than her previous state appearance. That year, Young dove more into javelin and attended a camp at Birmingham-Southern. One of the college coaches told Young and her family about the Junior Olympics and urged her to compete.
Young had her sights set on a new goal: qualify for the USATF National Junior Olympics Track & Field Championships in Jacksonville, Fla. She placed second at state and third at regionals to advance to the Junior Olympics, also known as nationals, where she finished 37th (85-06) in the 15- and 16-year-old division.
It was an eye-opening experience for Young to take on some of the top javelin throwers in the nation.
"It was overwhelming," she said. "At state, I was just trying to increase my distance and get practice over the summer. And I ended up finishing second, so regionals was a big deal. Nationals, at first I wanted to get top 20, but the competition there, they were all very, very good."
Young entered her junior season with so much more confidence after competing at the national level. She won all her meets expect one, and earned all-Calhoun County honors. At state, Young hurled a personal-best and school-record throw of 104-10 to take sixth.
She went on to compete on the Junior Olympics circuit again, taking home first at state and regionals. However, she wasn't able to head to nationals, which were held in California. Young is hoping this summer she can qualify again for the Junior Olympics and travel to Kansas City for the event.Learn more about the MaxPreps US Marines program at www.maxpreps.com/marines
Young has shown a steady progression each year. Her motheg has never worked with an athlete who has jumped 20-25 feet every season throwing the javelin. Coach has watched her daughter continually work on her technique and break down every aspect of her throws.
"It is a lot of technique and she is a small person at 5-foot-4," Krista Young said. "She's athletic and you can tell she's an athlete, but she is smaller than a lot of field event athletes. She's sort of a secret weapon when we go to track meets. She walks out and people look at her with a javelin and think, ‘Oh, we're going to beat her.' And she smokes everybody at the track meet. It's fun to watch their expressions and see how they react to her when she starts to throw."
Grey Young, who is captain this year, has been throwing well at the start of this season with her eyes on the title.
"She definitely has a good chance if she continues to progress and throw what we know she's capable of," her mom said. "She's thrown 110, 112 before at practice, so she's definitely capable of hitting the 120, 125 mark. I think she definitely can be a state champ."
Young doesn't dedicate all of her time to javelin. She also competes in basketball and was the starting shooting guard for White Plains this past season. She was named to the County All-Tournament team and was named honorable mention in her county for 4A-6A. One of the highlights of Young's season was winning a 3-point shooting contest against the county's best shooters. She drained 15 3-pointers in a one-minute span and even beat all the boys competitors.
"Some of the guys on the other teams are actually playing D-I basketball in college next year," Young said.
As a student, Young juggles attending White Plains High School with going to the Calhoun County Career Academy, which is a program that provides opportunities for students to explore their chosen career path by getting on the job training. Young has attended the academy since her sophomore year and is a member of the National Technical Honor Society.
Young, who has a 3.5 grade point average, also takes honors and advanced placement courses in high school and is a member of the National Beta Club. She attends four classes at the high school each day before taking a bus to the academy in nearby Jacksonville.
She will earn certification as a patient care technician if she passes a test at the end of the month, giving her a step up in her path of becoming a pediatric oncologist.
Young believes assisting people in the health field is her calling.
"When I was younger, my grandfather passed away from cancer and it's an awful disease and I want to be able to help people," Young said. "I love children and I've always loved being around children, so I'd like to help them. It will be about 12 years total (of schooling), but it will be worth it in the end definitely."
Young frees time out of her busy schedule for community service work, heading to the local middle school to teach drug awareness programs, and to work with preschoolers and early childhood students for special health fairs.
Through a tech course, she has had a chance to take part in clinical rotations at a nursing home, assisted living facility and hospital. Her hands-on experiences have been invaluable for her career aspirations.
But before she heads to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the fall -- where she plans to continue her javelin career -- she has one major goal left to check off in high school: win a state title.
"I just have to put in the most work I can from now until then and I think I have a pretty good chance at it."Know an incredible student-athlete who stands out in sports and in life away from competition? Click here to nominate them for a chance to be featured on MaxPreps.