Last week, it was the Girl's Player of the Year (POY) being decided and now it's time for the boy's best track and field athlete for the 2020 season to be announced.
Every year, Gatorade selects an athlete from every state as the Player of the Year (POY). IN 2019, the selections for the state of Texas were Jasmine Moore of Mansfield Lake Ridge for the girls and Matthew Boling of Houston Strake Jesuit for the boys. Moore and Boling would both go on to win the national Gatorade POY awards.
Brynn Brown won the girls award for Texas and we learned a little bit on how the Gatorade committee decided and what some of the factors that were considered? It's always a tough question, but this year had to be even murkier for the Gatorade committee than usual considering the season was cut short due to COVID-19.
First and foremost, let's look at the criteria. The Gatorade POY is an athletic award based on athletic performance, however it is much more than that. The consideration also comes down to academic achievement and exemplary character. Grades are a big factor, but so are character; community service and sacrifices of personal of time to help others are common resume builders of past winners.
Usually, determining athletic factors could be state championships, times, PRs, and big meet accomplishments. We don't have nearly as many of those deciding factors since the season was cut short by COVID-19.
Many runners didn't get their outdoor seasons started or didn't have the chance to race much or at big meets to get top competition and times, distances, or heights.
- - -
In our opinion, there are four athletes who could be the leading candidates for the committee. Considering indoor, outdoor, and post 2020 season closure accomplishments, here are our opinion of candidates considered for tomorrow's announcement in alphabetical order.
Baker is the real deal, when you see him in person, you can see his physique just screams D1 athlete! After winning the UIL 5A state long jump championship, his 2020 was destined to be one of promise and even though it ended almost right after it started, Baker had an impact.
The Arkansas signee didn't compete during the indoor season, but when he kicked his outdoor season off, he did it with a bang. In his first meet, he jumped 23-11.5 and 47-6. He followed that up by going 23-2 and 49-6.25.
However, it was his last meet at the Katy ISD Bubba Fife Relays on February 29th where he really dropped two bomb performances. Baker jumped a US No. 1 26-2.75 and a US No. 4 49-9.75 and that is why he could win the Gatorade Texas POY.
Greer is the only non senior athlete on our list. With the 2019-2020 cross country season Greer had, it seems impossible for him to have a quiet 2020 track and field season, but he did. He finished as an All-American in cross country, but his lack of running during track allowed him to be as casual as he was this season.
Although quiet and casual, he still had a storm like effect. After a long and late ending cross country season, Greer ran just one race all season long, but that one race cracked the record books.
Back on February 29th, at the Coppell Relays, Greer ran 8:56.99 in the 3200m. That is the fastest All-Time 3200m time on record in US history before the month of March. That time held up through the 2020 season for the US No. 3 ranking and could be good enough to earn Greer the Gatorade Texas POY.
The Gatorade POY process isn't new to Schoppe; he won the Gatorade Texas Boy's 2019-2020 Cross Country POY in the Fall.
He didn't run much during the track season before it ended, but he did produce a 1:55.59 in the 800m for a US No. 32 ranking, 4:17.20 in the 1600 for a US No. 15 ranking and 9:05.71 good enough for a US No. 8 ranking before the season ended.
However, as we saw with Brown wining the girl's award, post season running and time trials are fair game consideration for the committee. Schoppe was perhaps as impressive as anyone nationally in that regard, he continued to train and run time trials to prove his progress and development.
The Oklahoma State signee ran blazing fast All-Time list type performances after the season was concluded due to COVID-19. Although unofficial, Schoppe dropped a 4:00 in the one mile and 8:48 in the 3200m; both times would be some of Texas' top performances ever. That could be good enough to win Schoppe the Gatorade Texas POY.
Kansas signee Wilmington was on course to possibly be outright Gatorade POY by the end of the year if it was a traditional season. COVID-19 interrupted that for the Fort Bend Elkins senior, but not before he could prove he planned to have a monster senior year.
Had started things off by having a great indoor season. Wilmington not only ran fast, but he racked up accomplishments and wins worthy of a POY. He won the 60H at two of the biggest indoor meets in the country and the biggest two meets Texans compete at by winning both the Texas A&M HS indoor meet and the Arkansas HS indoor meet.
By the end of the indoor season in the second weekend of March, Wilmington's 7.90 SB on January 18th held up through the entire indoor season tied for US No. 8 in the 60H. His 21.91 indoor 200m SB from mid January also held up for a TX No. 13 Rank and 52nd nationally in the event.
Cameron Wilmington's 2020 Outdoor Rankings
Zuniga is only the 16th Texas HS athlete ever to run 1:52 and 4:10 or under and it didn't take an entire season for him to do it and that is why Zuniga could be the Gatorade Texas POY.