For the more than 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 13, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2015-16 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete.
In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.
This installment features National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year Michael Norman from Vista Murrieta in Murrieta, Calif.
The 6-foot-1, 167-pound Norman was named the Gatorade Boys National Track and Field Athlete of the Year. He won the national title in the 200-meter dash at the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships, breaking the tape in 20.15 seconds. The clocking ranks as the third-fastest in U.S. prep history and No. 1 in 2016. It is also the sixth-fastest time by an American this year and the world No. 15 amongst men of all ages. Norman’s career-best 45.19 in the 400 is the seventh-best high school time all-time. He is the only prep boy in history who ranks in the all-time Top 10 of both the 200 and the 400. The Southern Cal signee ran a personal best in the 100-meter dash this season as well, clocking a 10.27, which is the nation’s No. 2 wind-legal time in 2016.
“His world-class speed is impressive, but what really separates Michael from his peers is his unprecedented ability to carry that higher gear over stunning range,” said Rich Gonzalez of Track & Field News. “From 400 meters down to the 100, no dasher in prep history has recorded a superior set of cumulative sprint times. Finishing the high school season unbeaten, he showcased that versatility to trigger Vista Murrieta’s second successive state team title. In an era where social media often steers athletes toward traps of self-promotion, Michael’s self-effacing nature amidst extensive success is a breath of fresh air.”
Norman’s career-best 45.19 in the 400 is the seventh-best high school time all-time. He is the only prep boy in history who ranks in the all-time Top 10 of both the 200 and the 400. He ran a personal best in the 100-meter dash this season as well, clocking a 10.27, which is the nation’s No. 2 wind-legal time in 2016.
Norman captured two individual titles and anchored a pair of first-place relays at the CIF state meet this spring, leading the Broncos to the team title. At the CIF State Championship Finals, Norman won the 200 in 20.42 seconds and the 400 in 45.77, while also leading the 4×100 and 4×400 relays to victory.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track. Only the 11th athlete to repeat as Gatorade’s national winner in any sport throughout the award’s 31-year history, Norman is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
MORE: Q&A with Norman
Norman has maintained a 3.61 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.