Recent Fairfield Ludlowe gradate Tess Stapleton has been named the 2019-20 Gatorade Connecticut Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. The Gatorade Company, in its 35th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, made the announcement Thursday.
Stapleton is the first Gatorade Connecticut Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Ludlowe.
The 5-foot-6 junior won the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.88 seconds as well as the long jump (with a leap of 19 feet, 6.5 inches) at the New England High School Indoor Championships this past winter. Stapleton’s winning hurdles time ranked as the nation’s No. 4 performance in 2020, while her long jump effort ranked No. 6. The GameTimeCT girls indoor track and field state athlete of the year, also won both events at the Class LL indoor championships and the State Open championships.
In 2019, Stapleton won both the long jump and the 100 hurdles outdoors at the outdoor State Open.
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 Stapleton as Connecticut’s best high school girls track & field athlete, according the release.
Stapleton, who has maintained a 4.19 GPA, is a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award which will be announced this month.
Off the track, Stapleton is co-founder of the “Songs for Smiles” troupe, which performs musical shows for special needs groups in the area, and she has volunteered on behalf of her community’s Challenger Basketball program.
“Tess Stapleton is the ultimate competitor,” Fairfield Ludlowe assistant coach Justin Tomczyk told Gatorade. “She’s not only dedicated, she also wants to understand every facet and component of her training. It’s that focus that enables her to be a better athlete and teammate every day.”
Recent Connecticut Gatorade track athletes of the year include: Sydney Masciarelli (2018-19, Marianapolis Prep), Alexis Holmes (2017-18, Cheshire Academy), Brittany Jones (2016-17, Bloomfield), Jessica Drop (2015-16, Coginchaug) and Danae Rivers (2014-15 & 2013-14, Wilbur Cross).
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.