The Gatorade Player of the Year awards are available for the taking by athletes in any grade level. However, it’s rare for an underclassman to storm onto the scene and steal the recognition away from athletes who have built a reputation of greatness over several years.
But that’s exactly what one Reed freshman did this spring.
Freshman Gabby Williams burned up the track and field arena this year and was named the 2010-11 Gatorade Nevada Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“This one has been around for years. I know this was around when I was a high school athlete, too. It’s a pretty big deal,” Reed track and field coach Dale Moss said. “To tell you the truth, I was kind of surprised she was even considered a nominee just because she’s a freshman. But obviously based on her performances and her accomplishments it was good enough to be the best in the state of Nevada. I’ve heard of juniors and seniors before, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a freshman winning before, so that’s even a bigger deal.”
There’s an application process for the honor and it requires letters of recommendation and also considers the athletes’ performance in the classroom as well as personal character.
Williams said she was surprised she earned the award and will use it as a motivating factor her final three years of high school.
“I feel very blessed and very lucky to have got it. It really shows how hard I worked to earn it. It was a big surprise that I would get it,” she said. “My coaches really helped me to get it, and I came a long way from where I was to get it. It makes me more focused to keep that ability to get it. It keeps me from getting lazy because I know people will keep an eye on me now that I’ve accomplished this as a freshman.
Of the 12 winners in the state of Nevada, Williams was one of two honorees from a northern Nevada school. Yerington’s Makenna Lomorri (volleyball) was the other. The other 10 awards went to athletes from Las Vegas-area schools.
The 5-foot-9 freshman won the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, six inches at the Class 4A state meet this spring to lead the Raiders to fourth place as a team. The Northern 4A All-Region Athlete of the Year, Williams also captured second place in the 100-meter hurdles at the state meet with a time of 14.55 seconds and finished third in the 300-meter hurdles in 44.10, recording top-15 times in both events among Southwest competitors this season.
She ran the second leg of the second-place 4x400-meter relay that finished in 3:54.17. Williams’ high jump clearance of 5 feet, eight inches at the Sacramento Meet of Champions in California ranked as the nation’s No. 36 performance among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of her selection.
Williams is the fourth girl from Reed High to receive this award.