CHICAGO (June 23, 2016) – In its 31st year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Laurie Barton of D.W. Daniel High School as its 2015-16 Gatorade South Carolina Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Barton is the first Gatorade South Carolina Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from D.W. Daniel High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track, distinguishes Barton as South Carolina’s best high school girls track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in June, Barton joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Allyson Felix (2001-02, Los Angeles Baptist, Calif.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.), Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt HS, Ia.) and Bianca Knight (2006-07, Ridgeland HS, Miss.).
The returning Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, the 5-foot-7 senior won the 800-meter run at the Class AAA state meet this past season, leading the Lions to a second-place finish as a team. A seven-time state champion, Barton shattered her own state record in the event by nearly three seconds at the NCRunners/SCRunners Elite Tune Up with a time of 2:06.10, which ranked as the nation’s No. 4 time in 2016 among prep competitors at the time of her selection.
Barton has maintained a weighted 4.90 GPA in the classroom. An avid backpacker and nature photographer, she is a member of the Daniel High Beta Club and she has volunteered locally as part of multiple community-service initiatives through her church youth group.
“Laurie’s work ethic is tremendous,” said Cosandar Griffin, head coach of Daniel High. “She pushes herself on the track to achieve more each time. Laurie is always willing to go the extra mile.”
Barton has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on an athletic scholarship at Virginia Tech beginning this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Two-time winner Barton joins Gatorade South Carolina Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Raven Saunders (2013-14, Burke High School), Kaila Smith (2012-13, Beaufort High School), Jalacy Green (2011-12, Colleton County High School), LeAnna Morrison (2010-11, Berkeley High School), Briana Nelson (2009-10, 2008-09 & 2007-08, J.L. Mann Academy), and Jasmin Stowers (2006-07, Pendleton High Scool) among the state’s list of former award winners.