State record holder Long named Gatorade Arizona Girls Track & Field Player of the Year
July 2, 2021 by Seth Polansky, AZPreps365
CHICAGO (July 2, 2021) — In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Makayla Long of Perry High School as its 2020-21 Gatorade Arizona Girls Track & Field Player of the Year. Long is the first Gatorade Arizona Girls Track & Field Player of the Year to be chosen from Perry High 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 field, distinguishes Long as Arizona’s best high school girls track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Player of the Year award to be announced in July, Long joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt High School, Iowa), Allyson Felix (2002-03, Los Angeles Baptist High School, Calif.), Robert Griffin III (2006-07, Copperas Cove High School, Texas), Grant Fisher (2013-14 & 2014-15, Grand Blanc High School, Mich.) and Candace Hill (2014-15, Rockdale County High School, Ga.).
The 6-foot senior swept the shot put and discus events at the Division I state meet, leading the Pumas to a fourth-place finish as a team. At the time of her selection, Long’s top throw in shot put—53 feet, 3.75 inches at the Red Mountain Rampage—was a state record and ranked No. 1 nationally among 2021 prep competitors in the event. A transfer from West Linn (Ore.) High before her junior year, Long’s best discus throw of 163-2 ranked No. 12 nationally.
A member of her school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Long has volunteered locally as a youth sports mentor and coach, and she has donated her time to multiple community service initiatives through her church. “Makayla is an impeccable athlete,” said Gabriel Marquez, throws coach at Red Mountain High. “She is among the elite of the elite that have ever competed in Arizona.”
Long has maintained a weighted 4.0 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete on an athletic scholarship at Baylor University.
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 the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Long joins recent Gatorade Arizona Girls Track & Field Players of the Year Jadyn Mays (2019-20, North Canyon High School), Dominique Mustin (2018-19, North Canyon High School), Jai Gruenwald (2017-18, Chandler High School), and Allie Schadler (2016-17, Rio Rico High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Long has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Long is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade.