For a list of the other Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year, click here
THE WINNER: Raven Saunders
School: Burke (Charleston, S.C.)
Athletic achievement: She set a national prep record at the Taco Bell Classic in April, launching the shot put 56 feet, 8.25 inches to break a mark set in 2003 by nearly two feet. Saunders almost matched that effort at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor championships, capturing a national title with a throw of 56-7.5. She also won two individual state championships at the Class AA state meet this spring, leading the Bulldogs to a 10th-place finish as a team. Saunders’ 55-8.25 effort in the shot put broke the all-class state meet record by 11 feet, while her winning discus throw of 148-5 earned gold by more than 42 feet. Saunders launched the discus a season-best 159-11, which ranked as the No. 10 performance in the nation among prep competitors in 2014 at the time of her selection.
Academic excellence: Saunders has maintained a B average.
Exemplary character: The president of both the Burke High senior class and her school’s student government, she has volunteered for two years as Burke’s bulldog mascot at athletic events. Also an active participant in Burke’s DECA chapter for emerging business leaders, Saunders has donated her time to SkillsUSA, a national student-empowerment organization.
“Raven Saunders is pretty amazing in the shot,” said Tony Colizzi, head coach of Bishop England. “To improve as much as she did from one state meet to the next is unbelievable. No one in the state was even close to her in any competition.”
THE FUTURE: Saunders has signed with Southern Illinois.