Gatorade® National Track & Field Athletes of the Year: Amy Weissenbach and Gunnar Nixon
Calif. and Okla. Standouts Surprised With Elite Honor at 2010-11 USA Junior Outdoor Championships
EUGENE, Ore., June 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 26th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Amy Weissenbach of Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.) and Gunnar Nixon of Santa Fe High School (Edmond, Okla.) as its 2010-11 Gatorade National Track & Field Athletes of the Year. Weissenbach and Nixon were surprised with the news at the 2010-11 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where they are both competing.
As the recipients of the 233rd and 234th Gatorade National Player of the Year trophies to be awarded since 1985 in 12 sports, Weissenbach becomes the 18th student-athlete from the state of California to earn Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year honors, joining, among others, Gold Medalist Allyson Felix (2002-03, Los Angeles Baptist) and American Track & Field sprinter Shalonda Solomon (2003-04, Long Beach Poly), while Nixon becomes the first Oklahoma native to receive Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year recognition.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Weissenbach and Nixon as the nation's best high school track & field athletes. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Weissenbach and Nixon from more than 1 million girls and boys track & field athletes nationwide. Both are now finalists for the prestigious Gatorade Male and Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
Without question, Amy and Gunnar are deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school track & field athletes based on their statistics on the track and the impact their accomplishments have had on their respective high schools' success, said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jennifer Storms. But they are also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. They both represent everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient.
Weissenbach, a 5-foot-9 junior, won the 800-meter run with a state-record time of 2:02.04 at the California Interscholastic Federation Track and Field State Championships this spring, leading the Wolverines to third place as a team. The returning Track & Field Athlete of the Year as named by The Los Angeles Daily News, Weissenbach's 800 time ranked as the nation's No.1 performance among prep competitors in 2011 and is the fastest high school girls clocking in history against an all-prep field. Weissenbach's winning time at the CIF meet would have also captured the NCAA Division I Women's Track and Field Championships collegiate national title in the 800-meter dash earlier this month. She also won the 800-meter run at the 2010 state meet and the 2010 Nike Track Nationals as a sophomore. At this month's New Balance Outdoor Nationals, she ran the lead leg for a national-record-breaking distance medley relay (racing to a 1200-meter split of 3:24.85), which broke the tape in 11:22.23, and she anchored the national championship sprint medley relay that finished in 3:55.12.
Also a cross country standout, Weissenbach has maintained a 4.23 weighted GPA in the classroom and scored a 2330 on the SAT. A member of her school's select Chamber Singers choir and its Humanitas service organization, she has volunteered weekly as a tutor for underserved youth on behalf of A Place Called Home in South Central Los Angeles.
Weissenbach will begin her senior year of high school this fall. She becomes just the 17th underclassman to win Gatorade National Player of the Year honors in any sport.
Amy's showing at the California state meet is truly one of the greatest singular performances in U.S. prep history, said ESPN RISE/Dyestat California Editor Rich Gonzalez. With the 800 meters considered perhaps the most grueling of the individual track events, her 'solo' National Federation record performance is truly mind-boggling as it came in an all-high schoolers' race, rather than being 'pulled along' by elite professionals. Her competition tenacity and recent-improvement curve also signal her as a tremendous prospect for the future of American middle-distance running.
Nixon, a 6-foot-3 senior, broke the national high school decathlon record this spring at the Great Southwest Track & Field Classic, scoring 8,035 points to eclipse the mark of 7,090 set two years earlier by 2008-09 Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year Curtis Beach at the same meet. The state's returning Gatorade Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Nixon also won four individual state titles at the Class 6A state meet, leading the Wolves to a state championship as a team. He broke the tape in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.01 seconds and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles in 37.58. He also won the long jump with a leap of 24 feet, 4.5 inches and the high jump with a clearance of 6-10. Nixon's season-best mark in the high jump (7-0.5) ranked as the nation's No. 6 clearance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of his selection. His best 300 hurdles time ranked No. 10 and his long jump PR ranked No. 44.
Nixon has maintained a 3.26 GPA in the classroom. He has donated his time to Tulsa's Interactive Safari Animal Sanctuary. He has also volunteered locally coaching youth athletes for the Eastside Steppers Track Club, serving as a course official for an area road race and participating since 2009 in a charity effort to benefit a memorial college scholarship fund.
Nixon has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at the University of Arkansas this fall.
It's amazing that just two years after Curtis Beach's accomplishments, we have an athlete like Gunnar Nixon, who is taking those records down, said ESPN RISE Senior Editor Steve Underwood. Gunnar's tremendous jumping ability, above-average speed and his endurance, along with his continually improving throwing, make him an athlete who can come through with a clutch performance no matter what the event. His record-setting 2011 outdoor season makes him an excellent Athlete of the Year choice and there's no reason to doubt he'll be an Olympic contender in the near future.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year web site at http://playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.