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2009 Athlete of the Year
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Football -- Garrett Gilbert
Lake Travis High School - Austin, Texas

Never in the prestigious history of Texas high school football had one of its players been selected as the Gatorade National Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Gilbert became the first as he led Lake Travis to a 16-0 record, the Class 4A state championship, and the No. 6 spot in the NHSCA Top 25 Large School National football rankings. The University of Texas commitment, whose father is former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert, finished his career No. 2 on the state's all-time passing list - behind only former Texas Tech University standout Graham Harrell - with 12,538 career yards and 136 touchdown passes on 895-of-1,368 passing. This year, he passed for 4,851 yards and 55 touchdowns against just six interceptions, leading the Cavaliers to an average of 49 points per game. In a 48-23 victory over Longview High in the state championship game, he was 25-of-34 for 358 yards and four touchdowns. 

Baseball -- Patrick Schuster
James W. Mitchell High School - New Port Richey, Florida 
The 6-foot-2, 167-pound left-handed pitcher turned the high school baseball world upside down this spring when he set a state record by pitching four consecutive no-hitters. The previous record had stood for 22 years. In his record-breaking fourth straight no-hitter on April 20, he struck out 17 in a 5-0 victory over Dade City Pasco High, mixing a 90-plus fastball with curve balls and sliders. In his four no-hitters, Schuster struck out 60, while issuing only seven walks. Schuster finished 8-1 this season with a 0.93 earned-run average, striking out 115 and allowing just 16 hits in 60 innings. A 29-inning hitless streak ended when he yielded a third-inning double in a 9-4 loss to Tampa Gaither High in the state playoffs. Schuster also was an offensive threat, batting .403 with 21 RBIs and 21 runs scored. As a junior, he posted a 5-2 record and a 1.07 ERA. He will attend the University of Florida.

Softball -- Kenzie Fowler
Canyon del Oro High School - Oro Valley, Arizona
Last spring, the 6-foot Fowler became the first softball player - and the 10th in any sport - to be named Gatorade National Player of the Year as a junior after pitching Canyon del Oro to a 33-4 record and its second consecutive Class 4A Division 1 state championship. After overcoming life-threatening surgery and eight days in intensive care for a vascular condition, she finished 24-1 with a 0.28 earned-run average as a junior, striking out 309 batters in 148 2/3 innings while recording four no-hitters. She also excelled at the plate, batting .448 with five home runs and 33 RBIs. As a sophomore, she was 28-1 with a 0.16 ERA. This spring, Fowler, whose fastball has been clocked at 71 miles per hour, is 20-2 and pitched a perfect game in her final regular-season start. Fowler, who has a 3.39 grade-point average, will attend the University of Arizona.

Volleyball -- Gina Mancuso
Papillion-LaVista High School - Papillion, Nebraska
The 6-foot outside hitter was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year and an Under Armour First Team All-American after racking up 721 kills, 50 assists, 373 digs, 39 aces and 53 blocks last fall. She led Papillion-LaVista to a 42-1 record and a second consecutive Class A state championship. An honorary co-captain of both the Lincoln Journal Star Super State Team and the Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska Team as a senior, Mancuso recorded 32 assists, nine digs, five kills and an ace in the Monarchs' three-game title-match sweep of Lincoln Northwest High. On the international level, Mancuso helped lead the U.S. Junior National team to the NORCECA Junior Continental championship in 2008. A three-sport athlete who also competed in basketball and track and field, Mancuso also sported a 4.64 grade-point average. She will attend the University of Nebraska. 

Field Hockey -- Kelsey Kolojejchick
Wyoming Seminary Upper School - Kingston, Pennsylvania
A four-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-American, Kolojejchick helped lead the Knights to a 23-1 record and the Class 2A state championship last fall, and the team posted an overall record of 87-5 during her career. A member of the Under-21 U.S. National Team since 2007, she helped the Americans win the Junior Pan American Games championship last fall, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Chile that enabled the American team to clinch first place in its pool. She also was a member of the Under-16 National Team. An all-around athlete, Kolojejchick was a two-time All-Conference selection in soccer, was the recipient of her team's Gold Award in swimming and also competed in track and field during her career. She will attend the University of North Carolina. 

Wrestling -- C.J. Napier
Columbus High School - Columbus, Kansas
Napier accomplished a rarity in high school wrestling, winning three consecutive Class 4A state championships at the same weight class, 135 pounds. This year, Napier posted a perfect 36-0 record. As a freshman, he finished third in state at 130, and ended his career with a record of 145-9. Wrestling in one of the toughest weight classes in the NHSCA National High School Seniors Wrestling Championships at Virginia Beach, Va. in April, Napier went 6-0 with victories over two three-time state champions and a two-time state champion. His 7-3 overtime victory in the finals earned him the meet's Jeff Reese Memorial Award as the meet's Outstanding Wrestler. Last year, he finished fifth in the NHSCA Junior Nationals. Napier also has been a freestyle wrestling standout. He was a USA Wrestling Cadet National freestyle champion in 2006 and finished fifth in the USA Wrestling Junior National freestyle championships in 2008. He will attend the University of Nebraska.

Boys Basketball -- Derrick Favors
South Atlanta High School - Atlanta, Georgia 
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward, a Georgia Tech recruit, averaged 28.1 points, 13.3 rebounds, five blocks, four steals and three assists per game while leading South Atlanta to a 29-3 record and the Class 3A state championship as a senior. In the Hornets' 81-62 championship-game victory over Albany Westover High, Favors racked up 38 points, 15 rebounds, eight blocks and four assists. Considered by many the nation's top recruit, Favors followed up his state championship season with three other national honors. He was named National Player of the Year by USA Today and Parade Magazine, and also claimed Most Valuable Player honors in the McDonald's All-America high school basketball game. Playing just 18 minutes, Favors scored a team-high 19 points, shooting 9-of-13 from the field, and snared a game-high eight rebounds to rally the East team past the West, 113-110.

Girls Basketball -- Skylar Diggins
Washington High School - South Bend, Indiana
The 5-foot-10 guard won the state's scoring title, averaging 29.0 points per game, and also averaged 6.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 5.4 steals and 2.2 blocks to lead the Panthers to a 26-1 record and the Class 4A state championship game, where they fell 71-69 to the nation's top-ranked team, Indianapolis Ben Davis High. The Gatorade National Player of the Year led Washington to the state title game all four years of her high school career and the 2007 crown. She scored 2,790 points - the third highest total in state history - averaged 25.9 points per game in her career and led all scorers with 18 points in the McDonald's All-America high school basketball game, adding five rebounds and three steals. Diggins also started all five games for the U.S. Under-18 team that won the FIBA Americas gold medal in 2008, averaging 10.8 points in 23.2 minutes per game. Also an outstanding student with a 3.91 grade-point average, she will attend the University of Notre Dame.

Boys Cross Country -- Reed Connor
The Woodlands High School - The Woodlands, Texas
The 6-foot-1 Connor was named the Gatorade National Boys Runner of the Year after winning the Nike Cross Nationals Championship in 2008 in a course-record time of 15:13.6. He also set a course record in the Nike South Regional final. In the Class 5A state tournament, Connor's winning time of 14:47.19 was the second-fastest in the history of the Texas state meet. Connor slashed nearly two minutes off the time he ran in the state meet as a junior and won the race by 12 seconds. He also set course records in the Andy Wells Invitational and the Aldine Invitational, and became the third runner ever to break 15 minutes in the Chile Pepper Festival race in Arkansas. Also an outstanding student with a 3.7 grade-point average, he will attend the University of Wisconsin.

Girls Cross Country -- Jordan Hasay
Mission College Preparatory School - San Luis Obispo, California 
Hasay's star was the brightest in a year that included several outstanding senior runners. Last December, the 5-foot-4 Hasay won the Foot Locker Nationals race in 17:22 to become the fourth girl in race history to repeat as champion - she also won in 2005 - and the first four-time regional champion when she took the West Region crown. Named the Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year by USA Today last spring and the Gatorade National Girls Runner of the Year this year, Hasay captured the Division 5 state title last fall in 17:18, the fastest time in any class, to cap an unbeaten senior season. The owner of nine national age-group records, Hasay finished 10th in the 1,500-meter finals in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, and her time of 4:14.5 was a record for a high school runner in the Trials. The two-time Junior Nationals champion has qualified for the 2009 IAAF World Championships. Also an outstanding student with a 4.53 grade-point average, she will attend the University of Oregon. 

Boys Golf -- Cameron Peck
Timberline High School - Lacey, Washington
Peck has yet to win a state championship - he finished fourth in the Class 3A state tournament both as a sophomore and a junior and owns three top-five state finishes. But Peck burst onto the national scene by winning four of the eight American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) national events he played last summer - the FootJoy Invitational in June and the HP Boys Junior Championship, the U.S. Junior Championship and the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship on successive weeks in July - to finish No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings and earn his second Rolex Junior All-America First Team selection. As a freshman, Peck finished second in the district tournament and fifth in the state meet despite a badly sprained wrist. Named his team's Most Inspirational Player four consecutive years, Peck also is an outstanding student with a 3.7 grade-point average. He will attend Texas A&M University.

Girls Golf -- Courtney Gunter
Porter Ridge High School - Indian Trail, North Carolina
After being tied for the lead following the first day of the Class A-2A-3A state tournament last fall, Gunter made it a runaway on the final day, shooting the tournament's only subpar round - a 2-under 70 in blustery, chilly conditions - to shoot 76-70-146 and win her third consecutive state championship by a whopping 10 strokes. She was a three-time South Piedmont Conference Player of the Year and a two-time Charlotte Observer Player of the Year. Also an outstanding junior player, Gunter was a Rolex Junior All-America Honorable Mention selection and was named North Carolina Junior Player of the Year in 2008 after finishing in the top 10 in eight of the 15 events she entered, and was an EA Sports All-American in 2007. She will attend the University of North Carolina. 

Boys Soccer -- Kevin Bick
St. Xavier High School - Louisville, Kentucky
The versatile Bick was one of just seven players to be named a two-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas Boys High School All-American this year and also was an ESPN RISE All-America First Team selection last fall. Bick led St. Xavier to back-to-back state titles his junior and senior seasons, as the Tigers compiled a record of 47-1-2 during those two years. St. Xavier was undefeated (25-0-2) during Bick's junior season and 22-1 last fall. The Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2007, Bick was named First Team All-State in 2007 and 2008 and became the first player to be named Kentucky's Mr. Soccer recipient twice. In his final three seasons, Bick tallied 43 goals and 46 assists, including 21 goals and 19 assists as a forward in 2007. He moved back to the midfield as a senior, finishing with 12 goals and 14 assists. Committed to Indiana University, Bick also was a member of the U.S. Under-18 National Team in 2008.

Girls Soccer -- Natalia Torosian
Lenape High School - Medford, New Jersey
A two-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas Girls High School All-American, Torosian tallied 11 goals and 17 assists to lead Lenape to a 25-0-0 record, a second straight Group 4 championship and the Newark Star-Ledger Trophy as the No. 1 team in the state. She was named the Star-Ledger Player of the Year and the Philadelphia Inquirer South Jersey Player of the Year, and was a three-time All-State selection. Also an ESPN RISE All-America First Team selection last fall, Torosian finished her career with 42 goals and 38 assists. A member of the New Jersey Olympic Developmental Program Under-17 Team that claimed the 2007 U.S. Youth Soccer title and won the Region 1 Tournament and reached the national championship match in 2008, Torosian will attend the University of Florida. 

Boys Swimming -- Cole Cragin
Friendswood High School - Friendswood, Texas  
Considered one of the nation's top double-event swimmers this year, Cragin set a national high school record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 46.75 seconds in the Class 4A state tournament, breaking a record which had stood for 10 years. The victory made him a four-time state champion in the event, in which he first set the state record as a sophomore, then broke it as a junior and again as a senior. His state-record time as a junior (48.63) was the nation's fastest. Not only did Cragin double in the state meet in the backstroke and the 100-yard butterfly as a junior and a senior, but he set state records each year in the butterfly as well. His state-record time this year in the butterfly was 48.46 seconds, and he was second in that event as a sophomore and sixth as a freshman. Cragin will attend the University of Texas.

Girls Swimming -- Mary Beck
Westlake High School - Austin, Texas
Beck also was a national record-setter this year - for the second year in a row. She swam 1:56.45 in her signature event, the 200-yard individual medley, setting a state record for the third consecutive year. She broke the national record of 1:56.87 set by last year's National High School Girls Swimmer of the Year, Michelle McKeehan of Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove High. Beck's time of 1:57.41 in last year's Class 5A state meet also was a national record until McKeehan broke it at her state meet. Beck's time in the 100-yard backstroke (53.03) not only is also a state record, but the national public school record, and she is a two-time state champion in that event. Beck also swam the nation's fourth-fastest time in the 100-yard freestyle in 2008 (49.54) and holds the Junior Pan Pacific Championships records in the 200 and 400 individual medleys. She will attend the University of California-Berkeley.

Boys Tennis -- Wyatt Lippert
Lakota West High School - West Chester, Ohio
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound left-hander rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third set of the Division 1 state final by winning six straight games and the championship as a junior. Ranked No. 37 nationally by tennisrecruiting.net, Lippert heads into the state tournament as the No. 1 seed in his bid to repeat. Lippert was one of just two freshmen to qualify for the state tournament, a season in which he posted a 21-10 record and the first of back-to-back third-place finishes. He finished 25-6 as a sophomore, losing in the state semifinals to 2007 NHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year Matt Allare of Kings Mills Kings High, Lippert's future college teammate at Ohio State University. As a junior, Lippert finished 31-1 with a 29-match winning streak. Lippert owns a 51-22 junior record and was a finalist in the United States Tennis Association under-18 Midwest Winter Championship and the Fall Midwest Indoor Closed events last year.

Girls Tennis -- Elizabeth Epstein
The Francis Parker School - Chicago, Illinois
Last fall, Epstein became the ninth girl in Illinois high school history to win multiple state singles titles after beating the two-time defending state doubles champion, Nida Hamilton of Hinsdale Central High, 6-4, 6-4 in the championship match, and was named the Chicago Tribune/WGN-Channel 9 Athlete of the Month for October for her accomplishment. Competing in a field that included six players on tennisrecruiting.net's Blue Chip list, Epstein did not lose a set in six state tournament matches as a senior. She also won the state title in straight sets as a junior and was the state runnerup as a sophomore, winning the opening set of the title match. Ranked in tennisrecruiting.net's top 30 seniors, Epstein owns a 27-14 junior record. She will attend Yale University.

Boys Track and Field -- Mason Finley
Buena Vista High School - Buena Vista, Colorado
The three-time Class 3A double state champion - in the discus and the shot put - set a national high school discus record April 25 with a throw of 236 feet, 6 inches in the High Altitude Challenge at Alamosa. The 6-foot-8, 330-pound Finley, committed to UCLA, set five state meet records, and all three discus state title performances were record-setters. After finishing seventh as a freshman, a toss of 186-10 as a sophomore bettered the defending state champion by 19 feet and gave him his first title. Finley moved from Salida High to Buena Vista his junior year and set a pair of state records, throwing the discus 211-6 and the shot put 64-9'½. He also took the Nike Outdoor discus title. Last weekend, Finley ended his high school career with two more state records - 214-1 in the discus and 67-10¼ in the shot put, the latter breaking not only his own 3A record, but the all-class record, which had stood for 27 years. His personal best shot put, 71-3'½, is the 10th-best high school throw of all time.

Girls Track and Field -- Toni Young
Del City High School - Del City, Oklahoma
The 6-foot-1 Young will play basketball at Oklahoma State University, but may be a better track and field athlete. On the same day Finley cracked the national high school record book, Young joined him, tying the 15-year-old high jump record by leaping 6 feet, 4 inches in the Norman North Invitational. Young also cleared 6-0 and 6-2 in the same meet as she broke her own state record. Her 6-4 jump stood as the world's longest this year until it was bettered in a European professional meet May 8. Last weekend, she took her third Class 6A state title with a leap of 5-6. Raised in a household of 10 children by a single mother, Young didn't play on traveling teams or attend elite camps. But she could dunk a basketball as a junior, and this year, she led Del City's basketball team to a 24-5 record and the 6A state title, averaging 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.0 blocks per game. She was named Big All-City Player of the Year by The Daily Oklahoman, which also named her to its All-State First Team.

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