For the past 30 years, Gatorade has honored the nation’s most elite high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character with the Gatorade Player of the Year award. On July 14, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2014-15 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual GatoradeHigh School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete. Abby Wambach, J.J. Watt, Draymond Green and other star athletes are expected to be on hand.
In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.
Vista Murrieta High (Murrieta, Calif.) junior sprinter Michael Norman did things in 2015 that no other prep track runner before him could accomplish, but he capped his season earlier today with an equally historic achievement. Gatorade has named him the 2014-15 Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
“I’m pretty amazed, I’m so honored and I can’t stop smiling,” said Norman, 17. “Coming into the season, I was hoping to run some PRs, but I didn’t expect to run as well as I did. It shows how much hard work pays off. I feel if I continue working hard, I can run faster. I need to shoot for the stars because there are a lot of great athletes out there.”
The 6-foot,160-pound sprinter won the 200-meter dash with a state-record time of 20.30 seconds and the 400 in a state-record 45.19 at this month’s CIF State Track & Field Championships, breaking a 30-year-old mark in the latter while clocking the nation’s No. 1 time in the event among prep competitors in 2015. Both sprints ranked among the top 10 all-time U.S. high school performances in the 200 and 400, a feat unmatched by any other American prep in history.
“There’s a quality about Michael Norman that all of the great ones have: He makes it look effortless,” says Doug Binder, Dyestat Editor-in-Chief. “His sprint double at the CIF Championships—45.19 for 400 meters and 20.30 for 200—elevated him to a very rare category in high school history. Knowing that he’s just going to keep maturing and progressing makes you want to pay attention to whatever race he enters next.”
Norman’s 2015 resume includes a conga line of glittering performances. He clocked the all-time No. 8 American Junior (Under-20) time in the 200 and owned the world No. 25 in the 200 among men of all ages in 2015 as of June 29. He’d also run the world No. 28 in the 400.
The teen’s 400-meter finish at the CIF state championships was the fastest time ever recorded in the event at a meet sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Norman led Vista Murrieta to the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 title as a team. Just last week, he PR’d in the 200 with a time of 20.24 to capture a silver medal at the 2015 USATF Junior National Track & Field Championships. In addition, he won the 400 at the prestigious Brooks PR Invitational earlier this month.
Norman ran a single competitive 100-meter dash this spring and won the adidas Grand Prix Dream 100 in the process, breaking the tape with the sixth-fastest wind-legal prep time in the U.S. this season. He also led a trio of Broncos’ relay quartets that produced, respectively, the U.S. prep No. 2 (4×100), No. 5 (4×200) and No. 7 (4×400) times in 2015. He is only the 28th non-senior to win Gatorade national honors in the 30-year history of the program and the first male sprinter to do so.
Norman has maintained a 3.54 weighted GPA in the classroom. A member of his school’s Do Good Things community service club, he has volunteered on behalf of the Special Olympics, St. Martha’s Food and Pantry for the needy and the Temecula Time Machine track club’s youth program. He has also donated his time as part of the Buchanan Elementary School Fall Festival, the Vista Murrieta Shoe Drive and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to benefit cancer research. Norman will begin his senior year of high school this fall.