SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — In a career filled with historic performances, Union Catholic’s Sydney McLaughlin added one final piece of history to her legendary high school track and field career when she became the first athlete, male or female, to win the Gatorade National Athlete of the Year in consecutive years when she received that honor on Tuesday night at the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles.
This is the 15th year that Gatorade has named High School Athletes of the Year. The ceremony on Tuesday was held in conjunction with the ESPYs as McLaughlin and the Gatorade National Male Athlete of the Year, MacKenzie Gore, a pitcher from Whiteville, NC, each received invitations to attend the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by NFL legend Peyton Manning.
McLaughlin and Gore will also be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated next week. To win the National Female Athlete of the Year, McLaughlin was chosen over five girls who were named the best in their respective sports.
Besides McLaughlin, that group featured (in alphabetical order):
- Taylor Dockins, Softball, (Norco, CA)
- Brie Oakley, Cross Country, Grandview (Aurora, CA)
- Lexi Sun, Volleyball, Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, CA)
- Megan Walker, Basketball, Monacan (Richmond, VA)
- Kennedy Wesley, Soccer, Valley Christian (Cerritos, CA)
The Kentucky-bound McLaughlin, who will turn 18 on Aug. 7, followed up her amazing junior year that was saw her make the U.S. Olympic Team at the age of 16, with an even more spectacular senior year.
Although she didn’t qualify for the World Championship team last month, (the top 3 finishers qualified), McLaughlin, ran the fastest 400 hurdle race of her life when she placed sixth in 53.82 at the U.S. Championships i n Sacramento, shattering her own World Junior record (under 20 years old) of 54.03 that she ran earlier this month at the state Non-Public A Championships.
McLaughlin’s 53.82 is faster than the 54.15 she ran last summer when she became the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic track and field team to compete at the Olympics in 44 years. She advanced to the semifinal round of the 400 hurdles in Rio.
McLaughlin finished her legendary high school career with 13 national titles (7 individual/6 on relays), a NJ. record tying 11 individual N.J. Meet of Champions titles (7 outdoors and 4 indoors) 7 state records, four national records, and one World Junior record.
She was also MVP of the Penn Relays this past April when she ran the 2 fastest high school 400 splits in meet history, she became the only high school girl in U.S. history to split under 50 seconds when she blasted a 49.85 anchor carry to rally Union Catholic to a national record breaking victory in the Swedish relay at the New Balance Nationals last month, and she ran on a World indoor record breaking distance medley relay this past winter.
McLaughlin won four national titles in the 400 hurdles and never lost a 400-hurdle race to a high school athlete during her career, and was undefeated at all distances vs. high school athletes since June of her freshman year in 2014.
McLaughlin will most likely go down as the most dominant high school female track and field athlete in U.S. history.