CROWN POINT | You see it in most movies about teenagers who change high schools and worry about "fitting in."
Senior Tyler Gray certainly hoped to when his family moved from Merrillville to Crown Point, where he is the Bulldogs' No. 1 runner this cross country season.
"At Merrillville, I always had a good relationship with Crown Point teams. I knew they were a bunch of good guys," Gray said. "A lot of people think I moved here just to run, which is not the case.
"I moved here because my family needed a bigger house. It was time. I couldn't control it. I just did what my parents said."
Gray's personal best for the 3.2 miles is 16:22.3 and he was first overall at the Purdue Invitational in August, running that 3-mile course in 15:40.1.
An unrelenting will to win is what drives Gray, though allergy flareups often make him feel like he's carrying along an anvil.
"You push your body to a limit one race and then the next race, you do it again," Gray said. "You just keep breaking more times and setting new goals every day.
"That's what I like about cross country ... going above and beyond and setting the standard even higher. No other sport around here can do that."
The Bulldogs are defending sectional and regional champions and coach Keith Iddings sees Gray as a likely state qualifier even if the team fails to advance at the New Prairie Semistate, where it missed doing so by just two points in 2012.
"I was a little bit nervous, wondering how well is he going to fit into the team?" Iddings recalled. "But during track season, he worked and trained hard and the kids accepted him wholeheartedly.
"When we had our election in cross country, he was chosen to be one of the captains by an overwhelming margin."
Iddings credited Gray's family and Merrillville coach Mike Hoffman for his discipline and fearlessness on the course.
"Tyler's got a lot of ability. He works hard to be his best. We're happy they moved to Crown Point," Iddings said.