Audrey Michaelson has been named the Gatorade Alaska Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

 

PALMER - Audrey Michaelson may be a recent Colony High School graduate, but the former Knights standout is still earning accolades for her school. On Wednesday, the six-time state track and field champion became the first girl from CHS to be named Gatorade Alaska Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have success, and it’s humbling,” Michaelson said about the award. “I feel really blessed to be able to train with such an amazing coach. He’s really contributed to where I got, as well as my team and competition.”

That “amazing coach” is Mark Strabel, who said Michaelson has been an inspiration for Colony athletes throughout her high school career.

The Gatorade nod, which is chosen in collaboration with USA Today High School Sports, “is icing on the cake with everything she’s done both on the track, on the trails and in the classroom,” Strabel said. “It’s all of it together. She really deserves that award.”

As a senior this past spring, Michaelson led the Knights to a second-place finish in the Class 4A girls state meet and was named the meet’s Outstanding Competitor. She won the 800 meters in 2:16.92, the 1,600 in 5:10.94 and 3,200 in 11:21.03. She followed up a pair of state titles as a junior in the 1,600 and 3,200, and as a sophomore won the 3,200.

While her accomplishments on the track or cross-country trails haven’t gone unnoticed - she’ll attend Division I Loyola University in Chicago in the fall on a track and cross-country scholarship - Michaelson isn’t one to do a lot of trash talking, Strabel said.

“She lets her running do all the talking,” he said. “That’s her personality. I would say (what sets her apart) is her attitude and love of the sport. Just to have one (Gatorade athlete) in all the years I’ve been coaching, that’s special.”

While she was a rival with other distance runners around the state when the starting gun sounded, Michaelson said she owes a lot of her success to strong competition pushing her to excel.

“I know there’s no way I could have been able to set personal records like I did or improve in general without having people to push me,” she said. “That’s the main thing that will get you somewhere. I’ve been so lucky and had opportunities to race against so many amazing people.”

Michaelson is a champion in the classroom as well and maintained a 4.24 weighted grade point average while at Colony High. She was a member of the National Honor Society and French National Honor Society, as well as CHS’s Partners and Young Life clubs. She also volunteers at her church and the Mat-Su Borough Animal Care and Regulation Shelter.

Michaelson’s sportsmanship and effort didn’t go unnoticed by her rivals. In Gatorade’s announcement of the award, Francine Lombard, head coach of cross-town rival Palmer High’s program, lauded those qualities in her.

“She is a standout student-athlete with exemplary character,” Lombard said. “When you see her winning a race and giving it her all, she turns right around to greet and cheer on her competitors. She is the Gatorade Alaska Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year to me. She will be missed next year on the track. She was a fun athlete to watch, and she was an excellent role model for all athletes.”

At Loyola University, Michaelson said she’ll run cross-country and track, and that she hasn’t yet decided on a focus for her studies. She admits to being scared and excited about moving on to the Division I level and the big city of Chicago.

“It’s both (scary and exciting),” she said. “It was definitely scarier a few months ago when I just made the decision. I’m so excited now to be able to stretch more and get faster.”

Contact Greg Johnson at 352-2269 or greg.johnson@frontiersman.com.