* Colin Sahlman shows off his Gatorade Male AOY trophy on Tuesday
Photo Credit: Gatorade
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In general, we tend to differentiate athletes on broad terms: Local, state, national. And then we tend to classify them by sports: Basketball, football, track, etc.
But what happens when you're labeled the best of the best?
On Tuesday, Newbury Park (CA) graduate Colin Sahlman learned what that meant when he was named Gatorade's Male Athlete of the Year, a recognition of the top athlete named across all national winners of Gatorade's awards program.
The Northern Arizona University signee, named as AOY during a sit-down ceremony among national winners across all sports on Tuesday in Los Angeles, was decidedly the Best of the Best.
Sahlman became the second cross country or track and field athlete to win the overall honor since 2018, when North Rockland's Katelyn Tuohy also earned that same recognition. Kiki Rice, a girls' basketball player from Washington, D.C., was named Gatorade's Female Athlete of the Year.
Winners of the award will be featured at the ESPYs, ESPN's year-end awards show featuring the best moments in sports.
Overall, Gatorade has awarded five track and field or cross country winners as its National Male or Female AOY since 2003, when the program began, though Sahlman was the first male to earn the honor. Previous winners include Tuohy, Sydney McLaughlin, Candace Hill, Chanelle Price and Allyson Felix.
When you look at his resume, it's hard to argue: The reigning Gatorade Cross Country Player of the Year likely would have been its indoor track and field winner, had the organization named that honor, and he was closely in the running for the outdoor track and field award, as MileSplit was keenly aware.
Sahlman simply was in a different stratosphere in 2021-2022. Over his calendar year, he set a new standard for boys in cross country, running the fastest 5K ever recorded on grass in 14:03.29 at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships. He also claimed his first California CIF Division I title the same year.
Over the indoor season, he led Newbury Park to a new national record in the 4xmile, became the first boy this season under four minutes in the mile in 3:58.81 and set a new national record in the 3,200m, going 8:33.32 in February.
His outdoor campaign saw him run 3:39.59 for 1,500m, 3:56.24 for the full mile and also anchor his team's top five distance medley relay team. Sahlman also won the 800m at Brooks PR in 1:48.07.