CHICAGO — In its 35th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company has selected Jaylen Slade of Chapel Hill High School as its 2019-20 Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Slade is the first Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Chapel Hill 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 Slade as Georgia’s best high school boys track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in July, Slade 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-1, 155-pound sophomore clocked personal-best times in three events during the 2020 indoor season, breaking the tape in the 400-meter dash at the USATF Galleria Games with a time of 47.59 seconds, which ranked as the nation’s No. 2 performance among indoor prep competitors in 2020. Slade’s Showdown at the Complex victory in the 200 (21.35) ranked No. 5. The Georgia Meet of Champions title-winner in the 200 last spring, he was also a double champion in the 100 and the 200 at the 2019 GHSA 4A state outdoor meet. His PR of 10.22 in the 100 last year matched the nation’s No. 3 time in the event among prep outdoor competitors in 2019.
The nation’s No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2022 as rated by MileSplit, Slade has donated his time mentoring aspiring middle school track athletes and regularly volunteers his time to help the homeless. “I think Jaylen is more than worthy of this year’s Gatorade award,” said Jeremy Easley, head coach at Sandy Creek High. “Not only is he an excellent talent, but he’s a great kid. One story sticks with me: At the region track meet, he had just finished destroying the field in the 100-meter dash and we were working to get the hurdles on the track for the next race. Who do I see helping move the hurdles onto the track? Jaylen Slade. He could’ve taken a victory lap, but no. He was volunteering on the hurdle crew. The definition of selfless.”
Slade has maintained a weighted GPA of 3.56 in the classroom. He will begin his junior year of high school in the fall.
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 work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Slade joins recent Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Athletes of the Year Cameron Hudson (2018-19, Cedar Shoals High School), Cameron Murray (2017-18, Westlake High School), Elija Godwin (2016-17, Newton High School), Isaiah Rogers (2015-16, Campbell High School), Ryan Clark (2014-15, Banneker High School), and Kenny Selmon (2013-14, Pace Academy) among the state’s list of former award winners.
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 www.Gatorade.com/POY, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.