In its 26th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced O'Neal Wanliss of Holy Innocents Episcopal School as its 2010-11 Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Wanliss is the first Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Holy Innocents Episcopal 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 Wanliss as Georgia’s best high school boys track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in June, Wanliss joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Ryan Hall (1999-01, Big Bear HS, Calif.), Meb Keflezighi (1993-94, San Diego HS, Calif.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.) and Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt HS, Ia.).
The 5-foot-7 senior won the 400-meter run with a time of 47.77 seconds and the 800-meter run in a state-record 1:49.62 at the Class A state championship meet this spring. Wanliss is a three-time state champ in the 400, and his winning 800 mark ranked as the nation’s No. 2 time among prep competitors in 2011 at the time of his selection.
Wanliss has maintained a 3.28 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of his school’s recycling and environmental conservation programs, and has started the Spikes 4 Tykes organization, which collects running shoes for underprivileged children in Jamaica.
“O’Neal is not only a tremendous athlete, but a great student and a leader,” said Holy Innocents coach Jenna Downey. “He handles all the recognition he gets with humility and class.”
Wanliss has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at the University of North Carolina 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 ESPN RISE 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.
Wanliss joins recent Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Athletes of the Year David Smith (2009-10, Lovejoy), Ken Gilstrap (2008-09, Miller Grove), and Christian Taylor (2007-08, Sandy Creek) among the state’s list of former award winners.
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