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—Throws, Valley Christian (San Jose, Calif.)
Greatness Present: As her competitive high school career comes to a close this weekend, Elena Bruckner has another chance within the confines of her own state to cement her status as one of the best throwers in the nation. Of course, that’s not really in doubt.
Bruckner has already shattered the California state record in the shot put this spring, launching a throw of 54 feet, 7 inches at the West Athletic League finals earlier this month. That effort topped the previous high water mark of 54-4 3/4, set by 2008-09 Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year Anna Jelmini as a senior. Only New Jersey standout Alyssa Wilson (55-1 1/4) has produced a better shot put throw than Bruckner this spring.
Amazingly, that put of the shot may not even be Bruckner’s most impressive achievement of the season. She also owns the nation’s No. 1 mark in the discus this season after whipping it 186-10 at the Los Gatos Top 8 Invitational in April. That’s the No. 16 prep distance in U.S. history and only three high school girls have thrown the discus farther.
Bruckner would have to add 23 inches to her career-best at the CIF California State Track & Field Championships this weekend to crack the all-time top 10 in the discus, but she’s already in good company.
Gatorade’s 2011-12 Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year Shelbi Vaughan, now a two-time NCAA champion as a senior at Texas A&M entering next week’s NCAA Championships, owns the top 11 spots, including a record mark of 198-9 set in 2012). Jelmini, the 2013 NCAA champion, is now training for international competition with ALTIS in Phoenix. The last of the legendary trio to throw farther than Bruckner (to date) is fellow California native Suzy Powell-Roos, the one-time American record-holder and also the 1993-94 Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
Be that as it may, with the nation’s No. 1 throw in the discus this spring and a state record in the shot put, Bruckner is fully entrenched in the discussion to follow in the Athlete of the Year path blazed by Vaughn, Jelmini and Powell-Roos.
Greatness Past: As a junior in 2015, Bruckner captured a state title in the shot put (50-2.5) and earned third place in the discus (154-9). She also owned the No. 1 mark in the nation in both events last season (53-5.5 in the shot put and 182-8 in the discus).
Greatness Future: Bruckner has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track & field for the University of Texas.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade National 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.