Sarah Baxter is still undefeated as a high school cross country runner, but the Simi Valley standout was upstaged by another female standout Tuesday night at the annual Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards ceremony.
Morgan Andrews, a two-time Gatorade national girls soccer award winner from Milford High in New Hampshire and U.S. 20-under national team member, was recognized as the overall female athlete of the year at the West Hollywood Ballroom.
Andrews, the second soccer player in three years to secure top female honors, was recognized along with West Virginia prep basketball standout Andrew Wiggins, a Kansas signee who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Wiggins joins a group of basketball players to capture national male athlete of the year that includes LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love.
Baxter, the area’s first national cross country honoree, was the lone California representative among the six female finalists.
“This place is so fancy, I’ve never been anywhere this nice before. I’m just enjoying the scenery and I owe (Gatorade) so much for bringing me down here,” Baxter said. “People are still talking about when Allyson Felix came to school (to present the award). It was weird. I did not expect it at all and I was really surprised.”
El Rancho’s Cristian Roldan, the national boys soccer player of the year, was the only California honoree out of the six male nominees.
“It’s extremely meaningful. Being from El Rancho High School and Pico Rivera, being from such a small community with a bunch of Hispanics, this is really the cherry on top of everything,” Roldan said. “I had such an unbelievable season and I thank my teammates for that because without them, this wouldn’t have happened. But this individual award is very appealing to me. I take a lot of pride in this.”
USC freshman quarterback Max Browne, the national football award winner from Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash., was among the male finalists.
“I came to USC for one reason and that’s to win ballgames and last year that didn’t happen, but we have a lot of guys who have come in and are excited about the future and excited about this season,” said Browne, who graduated high school early and has been on campus more than six months.
“It’s my goal to win that job and kind of rebuild that (tradition). It’s a great challenge. I come from a line of great quarterbacks (at Sammamish). It’s a long tradition there and USC has something very similar. Obviously USC is on a much bigger stage.”
Paul George, a Knight High graduate and Indiana Pacers guard, was one of the male award presenters, along with San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers and Bryshon Nellum, a Long Beach Poly and USC graduate who has captured an Olympic silver medal and NCAA title in track.
Misty May-Treanor, a three-time Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist, and U.S. women’s soccer national teamer Abby Wambach were the female award presenters.