The ALL-USA Teams are coordinated by Fred Baer, founder, Track and Field Writers of America. Girls selections by Mike Kennedy, high school editor of Track and Field News.
Sydney McLaughlin of Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.) has been named the 2015-16 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year: Brian Fitzgerald, Rio Mesa
School: Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.)
Events: 400 Hurdles
Highlights: Sydney McLaughlin has spent the last few weeks rewriting the 400 meter hurdles record book—not just for high school performers but for all teenagers worldwide. The 16-year-old, who just finished her junior year at Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.), became the youngest athlete to make the U.S. Olympic track and field team since 1976 when she finished third at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in 54.18 seconds July 10 in Eugene, Ore., setting a World Junior (under age 20) record. She is the 2016 American Family Insurance ALL-USA girls high school track and field athlete of the year.
“This has to be the icing on the cake,” McLaughlin said after making the Olympic team. “It’s been a very long year and the Trials is stressful. My mind was on finishing the race and eating a cheeseburger.”
In recent weeks the USA has put on the greatest display ever of teenage hurdling, with World Junior records in both international events. At the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. on June 19, McLaughlin ran 54.46 seconds to erase the ancient high school record of 55.20, set in 1984 by then-upcoming Olympian Leslie Maxie of Mills (Millbrae, Calif.).
A week later, at the USATF Junior Nationals in Clovis, Calif., McLaughlin won her event in “just” 54.54 (second best ever), while a freshman stole the stage in the 100 meter hurdles. Tia Jones of Walton (Marietta, Ga.) ran 12.84 (with a legal wind) to not only topple the high school record of 12.92 set two years ago by Dior Hall, then a senior at Washington (Denver), but also equal the official World Junior mark set in 1987 (by Aliuska Lopez of Cuba).
Following her Trials race, McLaughlin ranked No. 8 on the overall 2016 world list – headed by Trials winner Dalilah Muhammad at 52.88. Five of those athletes are Americans, plus Janieve Russell of Jamaica (53.96), and three Americans have now been displaced by McLaughlin. She therefore ranked No. 4 among the world’s Olympic qualifiers following the Trials.
“Regardless of what happens in Rio, I made it there and I’m just so thankful for that,” said McLaughlin. ”Just hearing the word Olympics was a dream in the back of my mind. It was never really on my radar until I ran 54 (seconds).”