Sadie Engelhardt's Historic Year Leads To National Honor

* Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt poses with the Gatorade National Player of the Year trophy

Photo Credit: Gatorade

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Sadie Engelhardt's historic year isn't over yet. 

On Thursday, the Ventura High School senior, 17, was named Gatorade's Female National Track and Field Player of the Year.

"It's been a long journey for me in high school," said Engelhardt, who committed to NC State over her junior season. "My freshman year, I feel like I exceeded my expectations of how that season would go. I think I worked really hard last year, but I didn't see the results. This year, it all came together." 

There has never been any doubt that Engelhardt is a five-star athlete and a coveted prospect at the collegiate and professional level. But even the best young talents go through periods of disruption -- new coaches, training changes -- and find improvement hard to come by. 

Engelhardt pushed past that barrier in 2024, hitting personal record marks in nearly ever distance she attempted, including a U.S. No. 1 mark of 2:03.48 in the 800m, a time of 4:08.86 in the 1,500m and a national record of 4:28.46 in the mile. 

She even clocked an open 400 meter time of 56.45 seconds.

Engelhardt won a Brooks PR 800m title, notched her third straight national championship in the mile and won two California state championships, including an incredible come-from-behind finish in the girls 4x800 relay. 

She credits that success to a change in direction to begin her summer. It started with the hiring of Josh Spiker, who became Ventura's head coach to begin the 2023-2024 season. The former University of Wisconsin runner -- who competed under Jerry Schumacher -- immediately distilled significant training adjustments and put Engelhardt on the path toward her ambitions. 

"I told him that I wanted to make the trials," Engelhardt said. "Ever since then, every workout he's run beside me, he's told me what to visualize at the track, what it will take to the get to the trials," she said. "He's awesome and it's great that he has that experience." 

Engelhardt pushed herself and raced various times across 2024, hitting times of 4:09.70 in the 1,500m at March at The Ten. With her time up against the qualifying window, she followed by bettering the mark at the Portland Track Festival in June. 

That ultimately locked her up a position in the U.S. women's field. The high schooler had the 33rd best time entering the qualifying window. 

"I'm going to take it race by race," she said of her first round on Thursday. "Getting into the next round from the first round would be great. I would be happy with that. Dream goal? It would be getting into the final. That's the dream, the dream goal. Even if I'm last, I want to be in that." 

She says the 1,500m is a distance that feels right in the place where she needs to be. "I think I'm just the best at that," she said. "It's right in the middle of that VO2 max and that 800m speed. I think it fits my strengths the best." 

Regardless of how Engelhardt fares at the U.S. Olympic Trials, she'll get more chances in the years to come. She has one more year left of high school and a whole future in the sport ahead of her.

"It's usually when I'm trying to fall asleep when I'm thinking about it (my future). I'm not anxious," she said. "I think 'This is what I have to do.' It will be good. I try to hype myself up."

Gatorade National Track And Field Player Of The Year Winners Since 2007

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