Padres’ Gore, hurdler McLaughlin named prep athletes of year
MARINA DEL REY, Calif. (AP) — MacKenzie Gore, a pitcher drafted by the San Diego Padres, and Olympic hurdler and sprinter Sydney McLaughlin were honored as national prep athletes of the year on Tuesday night. McLaughlin is the first two-time winner since the awards began in 2003.
Gore received his trophy from Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. McLaughlin was given hers by retired WNBA player Tamika Catchings on Tuesday night during the annual event sponsored by Gatorade at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey.
Gore and McLaughlin share the cover of next week’s Sports Illustrated.
They were cheered by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, D’Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets and Abby Wambach.
Gore, a left-handed starter from Whiteville, North Carolina, led Whiteville High to a 21-6 record and the Class 1A state championship. He was 9-0 with a 0.22 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings through 27 games. He batted .480, with six home runs, 25 RBIs and an .880 slugging percentage while also playing the outfield and first base.
Gore was the No. 3 overall pick in last month’s amateur baseball draft. The 18-year-old senior received a $6.7 million signing bonus from the Padres. He said he plans to buy a truck and invest the rest.
“You’re all studs,” Gore told the other nominees while thanking his parents and the Padres.
“I’m starting to settle in and learn all the routines,” he said about his first weeks playing ball in Arizona and being cross-country from his family. “I’ve been doing it now for about two weeks and I’m fine. It’s part of growing up.”
McLaughlin recently graduated from Union Catholic High in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. She will attend Kentucky in the fall and wants to major in journalism with a goal of becoming a sports broadcaster.
For now, McLaughlin is focused on making a smooth transition from the preps to college.
“I want to be able to not only make noise in high school and then not go silent in college,” she said. “I want to continue my success there and hopefully in multiple events.”
The 17-year-old from Dunellen, New Jersey, ran the 400-meters hurdles at last year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She finished fifth in the semifinals and didn’t make the final while competing as the youngest member of the U.S. track and field team since 1980.
McLaughlin continued setting records during her senior year. She lowered her own national prep and world junior records in the 400 hurdles with a time of 54.03 seconds. She won the 400 dash in 51.88 and 200 dash in 22.96, both of which were the top times among U.S. high schoolers this year.
Her time of 38.90 in the 300 hurdles at a meet in the Los Angeles area in April set a national prep record by over a second.
Gore and McLaughlin, along with the other nominees, will walk The ESPYS red carpet on Wednesday night and be shown during the telecast.
The other boys’ nominees were: Casey Clinger, cross country, American Fork, Utah; Armand Duplantis, track and field, Lafayette, Louisiana; Michael Porter Jr., basketball, Seattle; Tate Martell, football, Las Vegas; and Umar Farouk Osman, soccer, Lakeville, Connecticut.
The other girls’ nominees were: Taylor Dockins, softball, Norco, California; Brie Oakley, cross country, Aurora, Colorado; Lexi Sun, volleyball, Solana Beach, California; Megan Walker, basketball, North Chesterfield, Virginia; and Kennedy Wesley, soccer, Cerritos, California.
Among the previous winners of the awards are LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Allyson Felix and Candace Parker.