Emily Pendleton, producer of the second-best girls discus throw in United States high school history, rates No. 1 in all of track and field this year.
Pendleton, a four-time discus state champion, recently was named the Gatorade national girls track and field athlete of the year.
The recent Woodmore graduate, who will attend the University of Michigan in the fall on a track and field scholarship, was selected from approximately 439,000 female high school track and field athletes nationally.
"Without question, Emily is deserving of recognition as the nation's best girls high school track and field athlete based on her performance and the tremendous ability she's demonstrated," said Jeff Urban, Gatorade senior vice president of sports marketing. "But she is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players of what a leader and a student-athlete should be.
"She represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade player of the year recipient."
The award is presented for athletic accomplishment, academic achievement and for exhibiting exemplary character on and off the field of play. She graduated from Woodmore with a 3.90 grade point average.
Pendleton, who received the award the day before winning the USA Junior championships with a throw of 162-6, didn't find out about the honor until moments before the announcement was made at the ceremony.
"She was a little overwhelmed by it all," said Emily's father, Mike, who has been her discus and shot put coach for four years. "I think it's just really cool."
Emily, who is spending this week at a throwing clinic taking place at Denison University, had no advance knowledge of her receiving the recognition from Gatorade, according to her father. Other family members were informed about the award a few days before Gatorade held the ceremony in Indianapolis.
The elder Pendleton admits the news of his daughter being named the nation's top girls track and field athlete still had not completely been absorbed.
"For me and my wife, we've kind of sat back and tried to think about what it means," he said. "To be honest, it was overwhelming. We still don't really know what it means."
Pendleton, who threw five of the top six discus throws in the nation this spring, proved quite deserving of the honor, which has been won previously by Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones. Pendleton also placed second in the state's Division III shot put competition.
"She works harder than anybody I've ever seen at a track event," Woodmore coach Gary Whiting said. "She works and works on technique. Strength will only take you so far, technique has to do the rest. In her case, Emily's technique is fantastic."
Pendleton's recognition as the top girls track and field athlete qualifies her for consideration as the Gatorade national female athlete of the year, which will be announced during a special awards ceremony to be held in Los Angeles in two weeks. Ohio's state-record holder in the discus (183-3 set earlier this year), Pendleton will attend ESPN's ESPY awards the day after Gatorade announces its male and female high school athletes of the year.
Pendleton will represent the United States in the World Youth Championships in Brazil.
Emily's sister, Erin, who finished second at the state meet to Emily in the Division III discus competition, will also represent the U.S. in international competition. She is scheduled to compete in a junior world meet taking place in Czechoslovakia next month.
"I feel like I'm working a taxi service, but it's fun, and one day we'll sit back and say this is really cool," Mike Pendleton said.
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