Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year: Zoe Sanchez

Zoe Sanchez does it again! The 2018-19 school year saw the junior bring home a state title during the fall in cross country. The distance runner got another one this spring, as well as a runner-up finish. For her efforts, Sanchez is the Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

2019 By The Numbers

  • State Champion in 3200 M
  • State Runner-Up in 1600 M
  • Region Champion in 1600 & 3200
  • PR in 1600 (5:32) & 3200 (11:52)

Dominant as ever…the Union County junior distance champion continues to stockpile awards with two medals in the State Championships. The championship in the 3200 saw her cross the line a full 8 seconds ahead of anyone else. Her times in both the 3200 and 1600 were season and personal bests, as she gave truth to the mantra “the bigger the stage, the bigger the performance.”

For Sanchez, she has improved in all three years when running at state. Here is how she’s progressed through three years:

2017: 1600 13th / 3200 7th
2018: 1600 9th / 3200 5th
2019: 1600 Runner-Up / 3200 State Champion

It begs the question, how much better can this girl get by the time May 2020 rolls around? Now that she’s a multiple State Champion (CC 2018 winner), she can build off that to ensure she gets that much-deserved D-I offer in the near future.

Voting Results

  1. Zoe Sanchez – 77 pts (12 first-place votes)
  2. Ellie Isaacs – 50 pts (2)
  3. Jada Pittman – 46 pts (3)
  4. Frankie Muldoon – 36 pts (2)

Voting included our 19-person panel made up of sports reporters, writers, video producers, former coaches, players, GHSA officials, and sports experts. The voting is Heisman-style, with the following points system:
1st place votes: 5 pts; 2nd: 3 pts; 3rd: 2 pts; 4th: 1 pts; 5th-6th: 0.5 pts; 7th: 0.25 pts; 8th: 0 pts

History of Girls T&F Athlete of the Year

  • 2019: Zoe Sanchez (Union JR Distance)
  • 2018: Rachel Gearing (White SR Jump/Sprint) & Anna Davis (Tallulah Falls SR Hurdles/Jump)
  • 2017: Rachel Gearing (White JR Jump/Sprint)
  • 2016: Kate Massey (Commerce SO Distance)
  • 2015: Jenna Gearing (White Co JR Distance)
  • 2014: Sally Woerner (Rabun Co Hurdles/Throw)
  • 2013: Jenna Gearing (White Co FR Distance)
  • 2012: Jessie Dotson (White Co SR Distance)
  • 2011: Madalyn Walters (Dawson Co JR Distance)
  • 2010: Madalyn Walters (Dawson Co SO Distance)

Sanchez is the first distance runner to win the award since 2016, and is the first-ever Union County winner. While it has been awhile since a distance runner takes the hardware, it remains the event(s) that has won it the most, now seven times. In becoming the fourth junior to ever snag Athlete of the Year, Sanchez has a chance to join Rachel Gearing, Jenna Gearing, and Madalyn Walters as repeat winners if she can take it again next season.

Looking Ahead – The Next Favorite

This one is easy because Sanchez will be back next year, and if her trajectory continues to navigate upwardly, this should be a good chance for a repeat. Two of the four finalists are graduating (Muldoon & Isaacs), but Jada Pittman is only a freshman and garnered some major hardware this season. Of course, plenty of nominees this season were also deserving of being finalists, so it won’t be easy for Sanchez to take this award again.

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