Junior track star recognized as Gatorade Athlete of the Year

By Luke Holthouse

State and national champion middle distance runner Amy Weissenbach ’12 was recognized as the National Girls’ Track & Field Athlete of the Year by the Gatorade Company on June 22. The award is given to the track and field student-athlete who best demonstrates athletic excellence as well as academic achievement and strong character in the country according to Gatorade’s website. Weissenbach was named the Gatorade California Girls’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year on June 21, making her a finalist for the national award. Six of the past winners of the national honor have gone on to win Olympic Gold Medals including Chryste Gaines, Marion Jones, Joanna Hayes, Monique Henderson, Sanya Richards and Allyson Felix. Weissenbach will join five other Player of the Year award winners from their respective sports (volleyball, cross country, soccer, basketball and softball) as nominees for the Female Athlete of the Year Award.

Weissenbach was a key member to this year’s girls’ track and field team that won a CIF Championship for the first time in program history and won multiple national championships in relay events. Weissenbach was a part of the distance medley and sprint medley relay teams, both of which claimed national titles at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. The Wolverine’s time of 11:22.23 in the distance medley relay was the fastest time ever run by a high school team in the event’s history, eclipsing the previous national record by over nine seconds.

Individually, Weissenbach has won two state championships and holds the national high school record in the 800-meters. Her time of 2:02.04 was not only the fastest time ever run in a girls’ high school meet but was also the fastest time run by any female collegiate athlete this year. 

Amazingly, both of Weissenbach’s national records this year took place during poor, rainy weather conditions that may have hindered her speed. But even more impressive for Weissenbach was that she ran so well despite missing a significant amount of time during the year due to a hip injury. Weissenbach, also a member of the cross country team, suffered a stress reaction in her hip in the fall and missed all of the cross country postseason. She said she didn’t feel that she was back to full strength until late May. Weissenbach, who also won the state title in the 800-meter last year as a sophomore, hoped that she would be healthy enough to defend her title but never expected to finish as strongly as she did.

“My goal all season was to come back and defend my state title,” Weissenbach said. “What I didn’t expect was to surpass my own pre-injury goal for the 800. I certainly didn’t expect to break the national record.”

The award honors students who excel not only in their respective sports, but also in the classroom and in their communities as a whole. While she continued to churn out record after record, Weissenbach still performed at an exceedingly high level academically, was a member of the Chamber Singers and volunteered as a weekly tutor for underserved children in Los Angeles with the “A Place Called Home” organization.

With her senior season starting this upcoming fall, Weissenbach said she hopes to break her own personal record next year and defend her State title in the 800-meter race for a third straight year. Despite the fact that she is on summer break and some of her teammates have graduated, Weissenbach’s season isn’t over just yet, as the Wolverines traveled to Eugene, Oregon yesterday for the Nike Track Nationals, an invitational meet between the twelve best track teams in the country.  The Wolverines are ranked as the fifth best girls track and field team in the country. Weissenbach won the 800-meter event at last year’s meet, and the team finished tenth overall.