BREAKING - XC Honor for Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt

Gatorade California Girls XC Player of the Year

Interview with Sadie Engelhardt at the CIF-State Championships

* * *

Sadie Engelhardt from Ventura High School (SS) has been selected as the California Girls Cross Country "Player of the Year" by Gatorade following an exceptional sophomore season that saw her set a meet record at Woodbridge, win CIF-Southern Section, CIF-State and Champs West Regional titles, and earn All-America honors at Champs Nationals. 

Engelhardt's accomplishments came during a season where she was rarely 100 percent, battling a lingering illness that forced her to miss her entire October race schedule, including the elite Clovis Invitational. But she rebounded in early November to win her league title running away and continued to crush the CIF post-season with a stunning 16:38.8 performance on the Mt. SAC 3-mile course at the CIF-SS Prelims. Two weeks later she dropped a 16:57.9 on the Woodward Park course in Fresno to win the CIF-State Division II title. 

Engelhardt is one of only nine girls to ever eclipse the 16:58 mark on the 5,000-meter course at the California State Meet. That time ranked as the third-fastest for a sophomore in meet history, and the third fastest ever by a girl in the D-II final. Engelhardt handily won the Champs Western Regional meet on the Mt. SAC 5K layout, and she placed 10th overall at the Champs Sports National Cross Country Championships in San Diego, her second consecutive appearance on the West Region team at those XC Nationals.

In an cross country season where she went undefeated in eight CIF meets, Engelhardt opened at the Woodbridge Invitational, blistering a meet record 15:42.60, the fastest 3-mile time in the U.S. this season. Her time at Woodbridge is a 3-mile PR and her time at State is a 5K PR.

Engelhardt received MileSplitCA all-Southern Section and all-Sophomore Class recognition and was one of only three girls who warranted consideration for inclusion in the runner of the year fan vote. 

Highlights from the Gatorade news release:

CHICAGO (January 23, 2023) - In its 38th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Sadie Engelhardt of Ventura High School is the 2022-23 Gatorade California Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. Engelhardt is the first Gatorade California Girls Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Ventura 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 Engelhardt as California's best high school girls cross country player.

Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year award to be announced in January, Engelhardt joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners, including Natalie Cook (2021-22, Flower Mound High School, Flower Mound, Texas), Katelyn Tuohy (2019-20, North Rockland High School, Thiels, N.Y.), Megan Goethals (2009-10, Rochester High School, Rochester Hills, Mich.) and Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School, San Luis Obispo, Calif.).

Engelhardt has fundraised for Runners for Public Lands to help memorialize a teammate who was killed by a distracted driver. She has also volunteered locally at running events and marathons in addition to working at a local running store. 

Engelhardt has maintained a weighted 4.50 GPA in the classroom. 

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.

Engelhardt joins recent Gatorade California Girls Cross Country Players of the Year Dalia Frias (2021-22, Mira Costa High School), Riley Chamberlain (2020-21, Del Oro High School), Carlie Dorostkar (2019-20, Canyon Crest Academy), and Kristin Fahy (2018-19, La Costa Canyon High School), among the state's list of former award winners.

Being a Gatorade Player of the Year means paying it forward for the next generation. Through Gatorade's Play it Forward initiative, every Player of the Year receives a grant to give to one of Gatorade's social impact partners, supporting Gatorade's ambition to fuel the future of sport. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners' grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.

* * *

Photos by Daniel Hernandez and Raymond Tran