It looks like fate has thrown Jaide Stepter and Devon Allen together for one last time, as the Gatorade Athletes of the Year were announced recently.
First, there was the time back in late March when both broke decades-old high school track records at the same event, the prestigious Chandler Rotary Invitational.
Stepter, who just graduated from Tucson’s Canyon del Oro High School, broke a 27-year-old record in the girls’ 300-meter hurdles, while Allen, a junior at Brophy Prep in Phoenix, eclipsed the 32-year-old record for the 110 high hurdles. Stepter broke her own meet record by recording a 42.18 time, which was the top mark in the nation, while Allen posted a 13.62 finish, just shaving the old mark of 13.69.
And, more recently, Allen was selected as the Arizona Republic Boys’ Track & Field Athlete of the Year, and Stepter earned the honor on the girls’ side.
And now Allen will move into his senior year with yet another honor, the Gatorade Boys’ Track Athlete of the Year, and Stepter will head off for the University of Southern California with a scholarship under one arm and the Gatorade Girls’ Track Athlete of the Year award under the other.
Allen won Division I state titles this year in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, and took runner-up honors in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, crossing the tape in a photo finish in each.
At the Arcadia Invitational earlier in the season, he ran a 36.39 for a state record in the 300 hurdles.
But it hasn’t been difficult to see this coming. At last year’s state meet, his time of 13.90 in the 110 high hurdles was the best in the nation for a sophomore.
Stepter won three individual Division II state championships on her way off the prep stage, finishing first in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, and the long jump. Her state-record time of 42.01 in the 300 hurdles and leap of 19’03” in the long jump put her in the top 25 nationally.
The Gatorade award also takes into account personal character and academic achievement – a couple more areas where they each excel.
Stepter maintained a 4.00 GPA at CDO, ranking her No. 5 in her graduating class, and she worked in the community for programs associated with the mission to fight child obesity, and volunteers at her church and the annual El Tour de Tucson.
Allen is a 3.24 GPA student at Brophy, a Catholic high school in central Phoenix. He volunteers for numerous organizations, including the Valley of the Sun YMCA and St. Mary’s Food Bank, and serves on the school’s Black Student Union and Red & White Club.