HS track ‘Athletes of the Year’ leave behind nat’l marks

Brian Shrader qualified for this year’s Meet of Champions, the prestigious post-season track meet that enables the best athletes from across classifications to compete head-to-head.  But he decided not to participate.

The senior from Sinagua High School in Flagstaff probably figured he had accomplished enough in four years.  The list includes three consecutive 4A-II cross country titles and 10 state titles in track & field.

He was ready to move on and get ready for a new career, this time at the University of Oregon.

But he has one more title to throw in his backpack as he heads off to the land of the Ducks.  Shrader was named the Arizona Republic‘s Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year, a nice way to round out an impressive high school career.

Shrader ran the third-fastest time in the country in the 3,200 meters this year when he clocked a 8:53.09 at the Arcadia Invitational, which draws many of the top high school athletes from across the nation.

But Shaylah Simpson, who was named the Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, set the bar high, so to speak, right from the start of the season.

The senior pole vaulter from Desert Vista HS in Phoenix cleared 13’2.25″ at the Nike National Indoor Championships, which were held in Boston, and then continued to better the 13-foot mark throughout the season.  Only six vaults of 13 feet or better were recorded in girls track competition in the state this year; four of those belonged to Simpson.

She finished her high school career ranked third in the country in her event, and broke her own state record of 13’02” by clearing 13’04” – just 4 3/4 inches shy of the national record.  Next year, she will be vaulting for Arizona State.

Shrader was one of several athletes selected to the All-Arizona teams; he was named for the 800m, as well as the 3,200m event.  His personal-best in the 800m was 1:51.54, which he ran at the 4A-II state meet.

Other dual honorees included: Ryan Wheeler from Casa Grand HS in the 100m (10.68) and 200m (21.56) dashes; Serene Williams from Peoria HS in the 100m (11.91) and 200m (24.19); Jessica Tonn from Xavier Prep in the 1,600m (4:53.55) and 3,200m (10:38.56); and Jasmine Todd from Chandler HS in the long jump (19’11”) and the triple jump (40’01”).

Tonn is leaving for Stanford, but her accomplishments at the high-school level won’t soon be forgotten.  She ran undefeated in cross-country competition during her last two years and won four consecutive 5A-I state titles in the 3,200m.

(Photo: Milesplit/Margot Kelly)