From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior sprinter, The First Academy (Orlando, Fla.)
Greatness Present: A fast start is important for any sprinter—especially Daniels, who doesn’t expect anyone to catch up all season.
The 5-foot-8 speedster began her final prep campaign with a dominant performance at the Texas Relays this past Saturday. Defending her 2014 title, Daniels raced to the individual 100-meter title with a wind-aided time of 11.27 seconds—a fraction of a second faster than fellow Floridian Khalifa St. Fort of St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale.
Daniels’ personal best performance marked the fastest all-conditions time among U.S. prep competitors in 2015, as well as the fourth-fastest effort in Florida’s illustrious history, per flrunners.com. The state’s reigning Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Kaylin Whitney, set the standard with an under-18 world record time of 11.10 seconds at the 2014 USA Track & Field Junior Nationals.
Daniels had already set expectations sky high when she won an individual national title at 60 meters in 7.33 seconds at last month’s New Balance Nationals Indoor championships, clocking the fastest time among U.S. prep competitors during the indoor season.
Not that Daniels needed much help, but Whitney turning pro this March may have helped pave an AOY path. As a junior, Daniels beat Whitney at the Golden South Classic, but the world record-holder returned the favor at adidas Dream 100 and U.S. Junior Nationals.
Coincidentally, Whitney ran her first professional race at the Texas Relays, anchoring Team USA’s winning 4×100 relay in the Women’s Invitational.
Greatness Past: Daniels won individual Class 1A championships in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the state meet as a junior. In 2014, she also broke the tape in the 100 at the Florida Relays, Texas Relays and Golden South Classic while finishing second at the adidas Dream 100 and third at U.S. Junior Nationals. She then represented her country at the IAAF World Junior Championships this past July, running a leg on the gold medal-winning 4×100 relay.
Greatness Future: Daniels hopes to continue her dominance on the University of Texas track after signing with the Longhorns.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year races aren’t over, and the National AOY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.