USA TODAY High School Sports Awards Honors Athletes, Teams, More


Two outstanding multisport athletes, a historic coach and an inspiring return from a tragedy won top awards at the inaugural USA TODAY High School Sports Awards, presented by US Polo Assn., On Thursday night.

Payton Verhulst, from Bishop Miege High School in Kansas, was advertised as the nationwide Female athlete of the year. Ga’Quincy “Koolaid” McKinstry, from Pinson Valley High School in Alabama was named best Male athlete of the year. Pamela mcdonald, the first woman to coach a boys’ soccer team to a Florida High School Athletic Association state title, has been heralded as the nation Coach of the year and the Brentwood High School volleyball team, whose coach suffered a stroke this season, was named Team of the Year.

During the show, hosted by Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski, top athletes in 27 sports were also nominated, along with special awards including Special Olympian of the Year, Rising Star and Game of the year. DJ Khaled and Charley Arnolt hosted a red carpet segment.

The show, which is now available to stream on demand, featured top athletes including Shaq, Sue Bird, Aaron Rodgers, Katie Ledecky and many more. Watch the full show here.

Verhulst, who has played basketball and volleyball, is a three-time All-State first-team top-5 selection. runs when COVID-19 issues called off the state tournament.

She averaged 19.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a senior and 15.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during her career. A nationally top 10 rookie who signed to play basketball at Louisville, Verhulst has also had an impressive volleyball career, being named the Class 4A volleyball player of the year after leading the Stags to the Championship. the state.

Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski hosted the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards available to stream now.

McKinstry, who signed up early in Alabama to play football, is already officially on Kool-Aid’s list on Tide’s list. At Pinson Valley, he played as wide receiver and cornerback, which won three state championships in four seasons. He also averaged 14 points per game for the Pinson men’s basketball team in 2019, which won the only state championship in the program.

Breaking barriers in Florida, McDonald, 47, from Glasgow, gained national attention when she took the Doral boys’ soccer team to the state title in their 13th season with them. McDonald’s previously played for the Scottish national team in the World Cup qualifiers.

Led by coach Barbara Campbell and Alabama forward Shaye Eggleston, the Brentwood High School volleyball team were heading for an eighth consecutive Tennessee Class 3A championship when Campbell suffered a stroke. cerebral in late September, about a week before the state playoffs. She was hospitalized and taken away from the squad as she rallied the last 10 games of a 38-3 season to return to the 3A State game. Campbell attended the State Finals in person.

DJ Khaled and Charly Arnolt host Kohl's red carpet segment during the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards.

Other winners included the Special Olympics Athlete of the Year, Jake Blatnica, a junior at Natick High School in Massachusetts. Jake was diagnosed at a young age with several physical disorders including hypotonia, mitochondrial myopathy, and apraxia of speech. He found his place in the world of sports when he was introduced to unified basketball when he became a freshman.

Just before high school sports closed in early 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, Blatnica suffered an ACL tear that had to be surgically repaired. While he’s been out for most of the basketball season, he was allowed to make an appearance in the last game of the season he scored.

Torri Huske was announced as the Female Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year. Huske swam for the United States team in Tokyo after setting an American record in the 100 butterfly twice in one month at the Olympic Swimming Trials. She holds the third fastest time in this event in 55.66 seconds. Stanford’s engagement also won the 100 fly at the US Open.

The national awards ceremony was the culmination of 104 state and regional programs that named the winners in June and July. The top athlete from each state who played any of the show’s 27 sports became the winner of Thursday’s show.

Two new sports were honored at the national show, boys and girls polo. Mackenzie weisz the Southampton Polo Club, and Hope Arellano, a recent graduate of the Kolbe Academy, were named the laureates.

Other winners:

Baseball Player of the Year: Jordan Lawlar, shortstop, Jesuit College Prep, Dallas, TX, senior, Arizona Diamondbacks No. 6 overall pick, .412 BA, 37 RBI, .732 SLG%, 1.288 OPS, District 7-6A MVP

Basketball Player of the Year: Saniya Rivers, Eugene Ashley High School, Wilmington, NC, senior, South Carolina signatory, 36.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.3 steals, 5.1 assists, per game

Male Basketball Player of the Year: Chet Holmgren, Minnehaha Academy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, senior, signed Gonzaga, 20.7 points, 12.4 rebounds, 5.1 blocks

Cross Country Runner of the Year: Jenna Hutchins, Science Hill High School, Johnson City, Tennessee, junior, nation’s fastest 5,000-meter XC time in 2020: 15.58.42, top 3,200-meter runner in 2020: 9: 49.83, will enroll at Brigham University Young in the spring of 2022

Male Cross Country Athlete of the Year: Parker Wolfe, Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village, Colo., Senior, has won every 5,000-meter XC race he’s competed in in 2020, personal best 5,000 of 14: 06.48 in 2021, signed with University of North Carolina

Defensive Football Player of the Year: Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry, cornerback, Pinson Valley High School, Pinson, Alabama, senior, signing from Alabama, 22 tackles, 12 broken assists, 2 steals, MVP of State Championship Game 6A

Attacking Football Player of the Year: Cade Klubnik, quarterback, Westlake High School, Austin, TX, junior, Clemson commit, 3,495 passing yards, 68% passing passes, 35 touchdowns, 3 INT, Sports Illustrated No.1 ranked QB, class of 2022

Golfer of the Year: Melanie Walker, Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, Virginia, junior, 38th Golfweek ranking, raw average score: 75, First Team All-State Virginia 2020 and 2021, 2021 5th place 71 mixed states

Male Golfer of the Year: Gordon Sargent, Mountain Brook High School, Mountain Brook, Alabama, senior, No. 2 in Rolex AJGA rankings, No. 3 in Golfweek rankings, three times Rolex Junior All-American, 2020 Paul S. Simon Character Award

Gymnastics Athlete of the Year: Addie Gallun, Whitefish Bay High School, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, senior, three-time all-around champion, four-time state uneven bars champion, 10 career gold medals

Hockey Player of the Year: Brody Lamb, Kasson-Mantorville High School, Kasson, Minnesota, junior, University of Minnesota entry, New York Rangers draft pick, 52 goals, 35 assists

Female Lacrosse Athlete of the Year: Demma Hall, Century High School, Sykesville, Md., Senior, led the team to second place, 44 goals, 40 assists, 12 games

Male Lacrosse Player of the Year: Andrew McAdorey, St. Anthony’s High School, South Huntington, New York, senior, Duke signatory, 21 goals, 27 assists, United States National Lacrosse Player of the Year

Rising Star of the Year: Lebbeus “LT” Overton, Milton High School, Alpharetta, GA, sophomore, 202 ranked No. 1 football player, Georgia Leading 21.5 sack, 70 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, District MVP

Female Soccer Player of the Year: Tori Dellaperuta, forward, West Forsyth High School, Cumming, Ga., junior, scored 54 goals in 20 games in 2021, scored the game-winning goal of the state title game, North Carolina engagement

Male Soccer Player of the Year: Scott Testori, forward, Daniel Hand High School, Madison, Connecticut, senior, 28 goals in 11 games in 2021, school record 86 career goals, United Soccer Coaches Player of the Year

Softball Athlete of the Year: Jordyn Bahl, Pitcher, Papillion-La Vista High School, Papillion, Nebraska, senior, 0.10 ERA in 2021, career record 95-3, 978 career strikeouts

Male Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year: Aiden Hayes, Norman North High School, Norman, Oklahoma, senior, state signatory of North Carolina, record holder in 10 events Oklahoma HS, set two national records

Tennis Player of the Year: Carrie Beckman, Sacred Heart Academy, Louisville, Kentucky, senior, three-time state champion, Notre Dame signatory, 10th rank UTR Rating, 17th rank Dunlop RPI

Male Tennis Player of the Year: Baylor Sai, Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, TN, senior, two-time state champion, Penn signatory, No. 1 in 2021 class rankings, 12th UTR rank

Female Track and Field Athlete of the Year: Eddiyah Frye, hurdles, long jump, St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., senior, best long jumper in Florida state: 19 feet, 4 ¼ inches, Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Track for 2020-21 , signed with the University of Georgia

Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year: Kamyren Garrett, high jump, Lawrence Central High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, senior, crossed 7-foot, 3-inch – tied for the highest high jump in 2021, succeeded 7-0 ¼ at the 2021 US Olympic Trials, signed with Kansas State

Female Wrestler of the Year: Olivia Brown, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, senior, 200-pound ranked wrestler, 17-0 record in 2021, engagement from Grand View University

Male Wrestling Athlete of the Year: Drake Ayala, Fort Dodge Senior High School, Fort Dodge, Iowa, senior, wrestler ranked No.1 at 126 points, career record 171-3, University of Iowa signatory

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