A Legendary Race Completed Adaejah Hodge's Season

* Adaejah Hodge is our MileSplit50 Indoor AOY for the 2023 season

Graphic by Cory Mull - Photo by Shawn Conlon

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Most seasons, naming an Athlete of the Year is easy enough. 

As campaigns wind to a close, there is often separation made at the highest of levels, usually from an athlete who combines the proficiency of times and accomplishments over a given season, with the hallmark of a title or two, maybe even a record. 

This year, however, was different. It may have been the toughest in all our years choosing a final athlete. 

We had two athletes in the sprints who no doubt will go down as legends on the high school scene.

There was Shawnti Jackson, who scooped up two national records, who broke 23 seconds in the 200m twice and finished the year having run six different distances.

And then there was Adaejah Hodge, a 16-year-old junior who set a national record in the 200m that re-set a new World U20 record; which won her a national title; and which almost certainly put her on the path toward international stardom for the British Virgin Islands. 

The MileSplit national team debated, and then they sought input from the MileSplit network, and then they queried the high school track and field community on Twitter and Instagram. 

The consensus was this: While Jackson's season was arguably the most consistent, Hodge's final race at 200 meters was simply one for the ages, and that on its own, combined with her stellar season in the 60m, it earned her the honor of being named the MileSplit50 Athlete of the Year. 

It was the closest decision we've ever had naming the award. 

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As wild as this sounds, Hodge is the first high school girls sprinter to win the MileSplit50 award.

She follows five straight seasons of middle-distance and distance athletes claiming the award, from Roisin Willis and Sophia Gorriaran in 2022 and 2021 to Athing Mu and Katelyn Tuohy over a three-year stretch from 2019 to 2017. Mu was our first back-to-back winner in 2018 and 2019. 

Hodge's final event put her on the stage to stardom. 

"I didn't know it was that fast," she said afterward, "Oh my gosh. Woah." 

On Day 2 of New Balance Nationals Indoor, she ran 22.77, surpassing the former national record of 22.89, which had been set by fellow junior Mia Brahe-Pedersen in February. Then Hodge hit the throttle in the final against Jackson, stomping the track in Lane 5 to claim an absolutely insane mark of 22.33 seconds. 

That performance would have been third-best at the NCAA Championships. It currently stands as the third-fastest time in the world for the 2023 and is a World U18 and World U20 record. 

"It felt great. I know I ran my race really well," she said. "I kept hitting the ground, putting my knees down. I came off the curve and just left everything off the track." 

Of course, Hodge wasn't a one-event wonder. She struck times of 7.24, 7.27 and 7.29 -- her best landing at U.S. No. 4 -- in the 60m over the season and ran 6.74 seconds in the 55m, a U.S. No. 3 mark.  

Hodge also ran the 400m twice over 2023, producing a time of 54.95 in January .

MileSplit50 2022 Season Outline: 

Update 5, March 8: Avery Lewis moves into the top five

MileSplit50 Athlete Of The Year History:

2022 XC AOY: Irene Riggs, Morgantown (WV)

2022 Outdoor AOY: Juliette Whittaker, Mount De Sales (MD)

2022 Indoor AOY: Roisin Willis, Stevens Point (WI)