The 2016 Gatorade Athlete of the Year awards took place Tuesday, July 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Player of the year nominees and pro athlete presenters pictured from left to right include: (top row) Karl-Anthony Towns, Todd Gurley, Jennie Finch, Sage Steele, Jayson Tatum, Landon Donovan, Matthew Stafford, Abby Wambach, April Ross and Cam Newton. (bottom row): Erin Boley, Kyle Muller, Katie Rainsberger, Madilyn Nickles, Sydney McLaughlin, Ella Stevens, Lucas Mendes, Khalia Lanier, Michael Norman and Andrew Hunter. (Photo courtesy of Gatorade)
The 2016 Gatorade Athlete of the Year awards took place July 12 in Los Angeles. Player of the year nominees and pro athlete presenters pictured from left to right include: (top row) Karl-Anthony Towns, Todd Gurley, Jennie Finch, Sage Steele, Jayson Tatum (basketball winner), Landon Donovan, Matthew Stafford, Abby Wambach, April Ross and Cam Newton. (bottom row): Erin Boley (basketball finalist), Kyle Muller (baseball finalist), Katie Rainsberger (cross country finalist), Madilyn Nickles (softball finalist), Sydney McLaughlin (track and field winner), Ella Stevens (soccer finalist), Lucas Mendes (soccer finalist), Khalia Lanier (volleyball finalist), Michael Norman (track and field finalist) and Andrew Hunter (cross country finalist). (Photo courtesy of Gatorade)

Before they walked the red carpet in advance of the ESPYS July 13, a dozen of the nation’s top high school athletes gathered for their own award ceremony. A highly-decorated volleyball player from Xavier College Preparatory was among four Catholic school nominees.

Video

Acceptance speech

Olympic Team Trials

Two of them took home the top titles: Male Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year July 12 by Gatorade. Coincidentally, Sydney McLauglin, who earned the female title, will showcase her success in track and field during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. McLaughlin is a rising senior at Union Catholic High School in New Jersey.

Jayson Tatum, who just graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis, is a star basketball player. Gatorade named him the Boys Basketball Player of the Year for Missouri three times among other accolades. Last year, he played for the gold medal USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team in Greece. Tatum is ranked as the nation’s second senior recruit in the ESPN 100.

Tatum and McLaughlin beat out 10 other athletes who Gatorade previously named the nation’s top male and female athlete in their respective sport: girls volleyball, football, cross country, basketball, soccer, softball/baseball and track and field.

That list included Khalia Lanier, who finished her final volleyball season at Xavier College Preparatory this school year. She led the Gators to the state final with a 34-8 season — with 496 kills, 324 digs and 28 service aces while posting a kill percentage of .438 — and led the nation’s FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship team to the finals in Peru last year, among other honors. Lanier was named the Best Female Athlete of the Year earlier this summer through the inaugural azcentral.com Arizona Sports Awards.

The finalist list for the nation’s top high school athlete also included Kyle Muller, a baseball player who just graduated from Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas. Like Lanier, Muller also earned an additional summer accolade.

April Ross, who earned the same title as Lanier for the 1999-2000 school year, was among several professional athletes who attended the awards ceremony. Gatorade’s Player of the program recognizes a winner in each state and the District of Columbia for achievement in their respective sanctioned sport plus in the classroom and in the community.

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