Sydney McLaughlin has has historic performances virtually everywhere she has gone this season.
Now, she hopes to cap her high school athletic career by becoming the first athlete, male or female, to win the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year in consecutive years.
McLaughlin, a 2016 Olympian from Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.), repeated as the Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, making her eligible for the overall honor.
The award will be presented Tuesday night at the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles. The event is held in conjunction with the ESPYs with the winning male and female athletes of the year receiving an invitation to Wednesday’s event.
At the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, she improved on her own world junior record by breaking 54 seconds (53.82) in the 400 meter hurdles for the first time in her career. She took sixth in the event.
The weekend before her record-breaking performance in Sacramento, McLaughlin ran a 49.85 400-meter split on the anchor of the Swedish Relay at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. It is believed to be the fastest one-lap split by a schoolgirl in track and field history.
The week before that at the New Jersey Meet of Champions, McLaughlin won the 400-meter hurdles and 400-meter dash, matching a state record with 11 individual career gold medals at the Meet of Champions.
“At this point in her young career, Sydney McLaughlin captures imaginations in a way that is rare,” said Doug Binder, DyeStat.com editor in chief. “She seems to have all the tools and traits that could lead to her becoming the face of USA Track and Field in years to come. She is on her way to becoming a global star in the sport, a Sanya Richards- or Allyson Felix-type star.”
To win the National Female Athlete of the Year, McLaughlin will need to beat out five other girls who were named the best in their respective sports.
Beyond McLaughlin, that group features (in alphabetical order):
- Taylor Dockins, Softball, Norco (Calif.)
- Brie Oakley, Cross Country, Grandview (Aurora, Calif.)
- Lexi Sun, Volleyball, Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, Calif.)
- Megan Walker, Basketball, Monacan (Richmond, Va.)
- Kennedy Wesley, Soccer, Valley Christian (Cerritos, Calif.)
Dockins, Sun and Wesley were named the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Players of the Year in their respective sports.
On the boys side, the winner has traditionally come from the ranks of football or basketball. That could mean that Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) quarterback Tate Martell or Nathan Hale (Seattle) forward Michael Porter Jr. could have the advantage.
Martell never lost a game in three years as a starter for the Gaels. Last fall, he led the team to a 15-0 record, a third consecutive Super 25 title and its eighth consecutive state title, completing 136 of 215 passes for 2,362 yards and 41 touchdowns and rushing for 1,257 yards and 21 touchdowns. The ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year, Martell is currently enrolled at Ohio State.
Porter, a Missouri commit, led the Patriots to a 3A state title and 29-0 record. He averaged 36.4 points and 13.5 rebounds a game. He also was named the ALL-USA Player of the Year, a McDonald’s All American and Jordan Classic participant.
Here are the boys finalists:
- Casey Clinger, Cross Country, American Fork (Utah)
- Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, Track, Lafayette (La.)
- MacKenzie Gore, Baseball, Whiteville (N.C.)
- Tate Martell, Football, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
- Umar Farouk Osman, Soccer, Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, Conn.)
- Michael Porter Jr. Basketball, Nathan Hale (Seattle)