High above the Valley, late honors roll in for HS athletes

School’s been out for a month, but up in Arizona’s high country, prep track athletes are still pulling down big honors.

Brian Shrader, who just graduated from Sinagua High School in Flagstaff, was just named the Gatorade Arizona Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.  The premier distance runner who won four state championships in his last year of high school, has won the prestigious Gatorade honor twice for his cross-country accomplishments, but this is the first in track.

Meanwhile, Payson High School’s Maddie Nossek is competing at the USA Junior Nationals against a field of world-class athletes under the age of 20.  She earned the trip to the Nationals with an eighth-place finish in the heptathlon at the 35th Annual Great Southwest Track & Field Classic earlier this month.

Nossek is taking in not only the honor of competing against some of the best young athletes in the United States, but also is soaking up the tradition of the famous Drake Relays, since the Nationals are held at Drake Stadium in Iowa.

She took eighth place at the Classic by recording a personal record of 4,364 points in the heptathlon, which includes a combination of seven different track events.  If she does well at the Junior Nationals, it could mean an invitation to compete for Team USA at the Junior World Championships in July.

Shrader also excels in more than one event.  His four titles this year came in the 800m run (1:51.54), the 1,600m (4:13.48), the 3,200m (9:14.40), and as a member of the 4×800 relay.  This was his second consecutive state championship in the 800m, while he has won three times in both the 1,600m and 3,200m.

In an interview in the Arizona Daily Sun, Shrader explained how he hadn’t expected the Gatorade award for track, even though he has won it twice in cross-country.  “To be chosen up here in Flagstaff over all those great athletes in Phoenix is really neat,” he said.

Nossek rounded out her high school sports career by playing on the Payson HS basketball team.  Shrader, who will be running for the University of Oregon when school starts again, also excelled in the classroom at Sinagua, maintaining a 3.78 GPA and was a member of the National Honor Society.

Shrader is also a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.  The winner of that award will be announced next month.

So stay tuned.

(Photo: Milesplit/Margot Kelly)