Gatorade® National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year: Raven Saunders

Standout Surprised with Elite Honor

Jun 25, 2014, 09:00 ET from The Gatorade Company

CHARLESTON, S.C., June 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 29th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, recently announced Raven Saunders of Burke High School (Charleston, S.C.) as its 2013-14 Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Saunders as the nation's best high school girls track & field athlete. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Saunders from more than 470,000 high school girls track & field athletes nationwide. Saunders is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

The 5-foot-5 senior set a national prep record at the Taco Bell Classic in April, launching the shot put 56 feet, 8.25 inches to break a mark set in 2003 by nearly two feet. Saunders almost matched that effort at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor championships, capturing a national title with a throw of 56-7.5. She also won two individual state championships at the Class AA state meet this spring, leading the Bulldogs to a 10th-place finish as a team. Saunders' 55-8.25 effort in the shot put broke the all-class state meet record by 11 feet, while her winning discus throw of 148-5 earned gold by more than 42 feet. Saunders launched the discus a season-best 159-11, which ranked as the No. 10 performance in the nation among prep competitors in 2014 at the time of her selection.

Saunders has maintained a B average in the classroom. The president of both the Burke High senior class and her school's student government, she has volunteered for two years as Burke's bulldog mascot at athletic events. Also an active participant in Burke's DECA chapter for emerging business leaders, Saunders has donated her time to SkillsUSA, a national student-empowerment organization.

"The amazing thing about Raven Saunders is that by her junior year, she wasn't getting any better, so she found a new way of propelling the shot and learned spin technique from scratch," said Doug Binder, Editor-in-Chief of "With a lot of hard work, Raven and her coach re-imagined what was possible in high school girls shot put and then went there. Raven didn't just break a national record, she blew it up and showed us all something entirely new."

Saunders has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track & field on an athletic scholarship at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this fall.

"Without question, Raven is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school girls track & field athlete based on her statistics on the track and the impact her accomplishments have had on Burke's success," said Gatorade Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. She represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."

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 USA TODAY High School Sports and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, 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.

Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:

  • Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
  • WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie
  • NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith
  • Kansas City Royals Cy Young award-winner Zach Grienke

For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year Web site at, on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at







Raven Saunders

Burke, Charleston, SC

S. Illinois Univ. Carbondale


Kendell Williams

Kell, Marietta, GA

Univ. of Georgia


Shelbi Vaughan

Legacy, Mansfield, TX

Texas A&M


Amy Weissenbach

Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, CA

High School Senior


Ashton Purvis

St. Elizabeth, Oakland, CA

University of Miami


Anna Jelmini

Shafter, Shafter, CA

Arizona State University Grad.


Chanelle Price

Easton Area, Easton, PA

University of Tennessee Grad.


Emily Pendleton

Woodmore, Elmore, OH

University of Michigan Grad.


Bianca Knight

Ridgeland, Ridgeland, MS

USA Track & Field


Brittany Daniels

Merrill F. West, Tracy, CA



Shalonda Solomon

Long Beach Poly, Englewood, CA

USA Track & Field


Allyson Felix

Los Angeles Baptist, North Hills, CA

USA Track & Field/Nike


Sanya Richards

St. Thomas Aquinas, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

USA Track & Field/Nike


Ychlindria Spears

Luling, Luling, TX

Univ. of Texas Grad.


Monique Henderson

Samuel FB Morse, San Diego, CA

USA Track & Field/Reebok


Stacy Martin

Edgewood, Ellettsville, IN

Auburn Grad.


Angela Williams

Chino, Chino, CA

USC Grad.


SOURCE The Gatorade Company