CHICAGO (June 29, 2022) — In its 37th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Will Sumner of Woodstock High School is the 2021-22 Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Player of the Year. Sumner is the first Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Player of the Year to be chosen from Woodstock 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 Sumner as Georgia’s best high school boys track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Player of the Year award to be announced in July, Sumner 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 (2014-15 & 2013-14, Grand Blanc High School, Mich.) and Candace Hill (2014-15, Rockdale County High School, Ga.).
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior sprinter and middle distance talent won the 400-meter dash at the GFSA Class 7A state meet with a personal-best time of 45.78, setting a new state record in the event and leading the Wolverines to fourth place as a team. Sumner also won the 400 at the BrooksPR Invitational. His personal-best clocking in the 800-meter event this spring was the nation’s No. 2 time among prep competitors in 2022 and represented the No. 3 clocking in American prep history, just 0.08 seconds shy of the national high school record.
A classical pianist, Sumner has served on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory council and has played a significant mentorship role as a volunteer coach in the school district’s middle school track program. “Sumner had one of those special seasons we may never see replicated,” said Ryan McClay, editor of Milesplit Georgia. “He broke the state record in both the 400 and 800 and almost broke the national record in the 800. He also anchored the winning 4x800 quartet at states.”
Sumner has maintained a 3.78 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete on an athletic scholarship at the University of Georgia this 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 leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.
Sumner joins recent Gatorade Georgia Boys Track & Field Players of the Year Malik Mixon (2020-21, Westlake High School), Jaylen Slade (2019-20, Chapel Hill High School), Cameron Hudson (2018-19, Cedar Shoals High School), and Cameron Murray (2017-18, Westlake High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.
Gatorade has a long-standing history of serving athlete communities and understands how sports instill valuable lifelong skills on and off the field. Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform, Sumner has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of their choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports. Sumner is also eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.
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 playeroftheyear.gatorade.comor follow us on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY, Instagram at instagram.com/Gatorade and Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade.