LOS ANGELES – Kyler Murray’s and Candace Hill’s lists of athletic accomplishments reads like an introduction speech for lifetime achievement award recipients, and only one of them can legally be admitted into an R-rated movie without a parent or guardian.
Murray, 17, a quarterback, led Allen (Allen, Texas) to three Class 6A Division I state titles, brought home the state finals MVP trophy each time, never lost as a starter (43-0) and has managed consecutive American Family Insurance ALL-USA first-team selections, including Player of the Year as a senior.
Hill, 16, a sprinter at Rockdale County (Conyers, Ga.), is the fastest Junior (under 20) in the world. She became the first prep female in history to break 11 seconds in the 100-meter dash, clocking a time of 10.98. She’s won 89 consecutive races and was only the second sophomore girl to win national Gatorade honors in any sport.
Still, Tuesday night, Murray and Hill won quite possibly their biggest piece of hardware to date when they were named Gatorade Male and Female Athletes of the Year at the L.A. Hotel. The pair beat out Gatorade National Players of the Year in girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys track & field.
Hill becomes the only sophomore to win National Athlete of the Year and the only female non-senior to win.
Hill, a sophomore, is competing in the IAAF World Youth Track and Field Championships in Colombia, and was not able to attend the awards banquet.
“I just want to thank my family for always being there for me,” Murray said. “I want to thank Gatorade for this award, it’s very prestigious and I don’t take it for granted.”
Murray, who already has moved in for his freshman year at Texas A&M, threw for 4,715 yards and 54 touchdowns and rushed for 1,498 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior last season.
This marks the 30th anniversary of the Gatorade Player of the Year program.
In that time, Gatorade has honored more than 14,000 State Players of the Year and more than 280 National Players of the Year, including superstars like Candace Parker, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter and Emmitt Smith.
Last year’s Male Athlete of the Year, Karl Towns Jr., was recently picked No. 1 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA Draft.
“I’d like to thank God because without him none of this would be possible,” Hill said in a pre-recorded video message. “I’d like to thank my school, my teachers and the whole Rockdale community for being behind me.