For 27 years, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, has honored the nation’s best high school athletes.
Tianna Valentine of Hazelwood East High School is the 2011-2012 Gatorade Missouri Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. She is the first student from HEHS to earn the award.
Awards are presented for outstanding athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement and demonstrating exemplary character on and off the track. Valentine is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, to be announced in June.
At the 2011-2012 Missouri State High School Activities Association Track and Field Championship, Valentine won the 100-meter with a time of 11.51 seconds. In the 200-meter, she took first place with a time of 23.71 seconds. She set new school records in both events, and is a three-time state champion in the 100-meter.
She is the 2012 St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro Girls Track Athlete of the Year. She also set a meet record at Kansas Relays in the 100-meter race, finishing in 11.66.
Valentine graduated from HEHS in May. She accepted an athletic scholarship from the University of Kansas in February. She maintained a 3.1 GPA, is a devoted member of her church, and volunteers locally on behalf of multiple charity fundraising initiatives and as a youth track and field coach.
Linwood Barnes, HEHS social studies teacher and girls’ track coach, said Valentine is the ultimate leader on the team. “She was so hard-working at practice and it showed when she had to compete. Athletes like her don’t come around often. She has a very bright future and I truly believe she will be in the 2016 Olympics.”
Valentine joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports such as Allyson Felix (2001-02), Derek Jeter (1991-92), Candace Parker (2001-02), Abby Wambach (1997-98), Mark Sanchez (2004-05), Lolo Jones (1997-98) and Bianca Knight (2006-07).
Recent Gatorade Missouri Girls Track and Field award winners include Colleen Quigley, Nerinx Hall (2010-11); Tiffani McReynolds, Pembroke Hill School (2009-10); Emily Sisson, Parkway Central (2008-09); and Alishea Usery, McCluer South-Berkeley (2007-08).