Athlete of the Year honor for A&M's Shelbi Vaughan
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Texas A&M freshman thrower Shelbi Vaughan has been named the 2012 Girls Athlete of the Year by Track & Field News. A feature on the two-sport athlete, who plays volleyball for the Aggies, appears in the December issue of the magazine, which noted Vaughan was the most dominant force on the high school scene in 2012 - boy or girl.
Three other Texas A&M track and field freshmen - Aldrich Bailey, Hector Hernandez and Jennifer Madu - were also awarded All-America status by Track & Field News. All four Aggie athletes honored by the magazine are Texas preps.
"It's really exciting for me, since usually most people don't pay as much attention to the throws," noted Vaughan. "With my performances this past season it seemed to open the door for more recognition. I really wanted to hit around 212 feet in competition, since I was able to get that far in practice. But I was happy with being consistent in the 190 range once I reached that distance in competition.
"I really liked having the opportunity to throw against older competitors during the summer. It was exciting to know I could keep up with them. It was a huge motivation and I know what I have to bring to compete on that level. I'm looking forward to the next track and field season, to see if I'm better or the same as last season. I'm anxious to see where this next year is going to take me."
As a unanimous selection among the Track &Field News voting panel, Vaughan became just the eighth athlete to earn all the No. 1 votes since the Girls Athlete of the Year award was first presented by the monthly magazine in 1977. Vaughan also becomes the first field eventer to compile a perfect score of 180 points.
Vaughan is the third Girls Athlete of the Year to be a part of the Aggie track and field program in the past six years. Gabby Mayo earned the honor in 2006 after her junior season in high school while recent A&M transfer Ashton Purvis received the award in 2010.
Vaughan becomes just the second female from the state of Texas to earn the prestigious honor. The first female prep athlete from Texas to be named T&FN Girls Athlete of the Year was Amy Acuff, a high jumper from Corpus Christi Calallen who was honored in 1993.
While ranked No. 1 among the five All-Americas selected in the discus, Vaughan also earned All-America status in the shot put, where she ranked fifth. She won Texas Relays and the Texas State meet in 2012 while producing a best mark of 50-1.25.
A senior season at Legacy High School in Mansfield for Vaughan included a discus victory at the Texas Relays in late March with a mark of 191 feet, 6 inches that bettered the previous high school record by 15 inches. Following a successful title defense during the Texas State meet in May, Vaughan improved her high school record to 191-11 to claim first place at the Golden West Invitational held in June.
Vaughan then broke the American Junior record twice in mid-June to earn another victory at the USATF Junior Championships, reaching distances of 196-11 and 198-9 that also improved upon her high school national records. She managed to accomplish those record-setting marks after opening the competition with two fouls.
A third foul on her next attempt would have ended her day. However, Vaughan calmly launched a throw of 181-4 to remain in the competition and take over the lead. She then produced the American Junior record tosses in rounds four and six. Vaughan bettered the field, which included college freshmen, by 27 feet.
The next meet for Vaughan had her throwing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, where she placed fourth among the professional athletes. Her toss of 195-9 left her less than two feet out of third place behind Suzy Powell-Ross, who was the T&F News Girls Athlete of the Year in 1994.
"I had multiple meets like that, where practice had gone really well and I knew I was ready to hit a big mark," said Vaughan. "On my final throw at the Olympic Trials the technique felt right. If I would have held onto the discus a little longer I think it would have been a big throw. Instead, it went into the net.
"It's very promising to see athletes like Suzy still competing in the discus. I'm hoping to go further in the sport than just my college career."
Vaughan wrapped up her stellar summer with a bronze medal in the discus at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain. She was among seven athletes with ties to the A&M program competing at the international meet in early July. Vaughan, who held the lead twice during the discus competition, finished third with a mark of 197-1.
Bailey (Timberview, Arlington) finished third in the voting for the Boys Athlete of the Year while earning top All-America honors in the 400 meters and was ranked second in the 200 meters. Bailey received five of the No. 1 votes for Athlete of the Year in totaling 167 points. Tyreek Hill claimed top honors with 180 points while Shawn Barber finished second with 178 points.
In sporting the fastest 400m time of the season with a 45.19, Bailey won the Texas State title, added wins at the Golden West Invitational and USATF Junior Championships before finishing in a tie for the bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.
Bailey also played a key role in Timberview relay teams being honored in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays. The Timberview 4 x 400 ranked No. 4, placing third at Texas Relays and the State meet while posting the high school leading time of 3:12.71, and the sprint relay ranked No. 5 after placing third at State.
Madu (Plano East) was another multi-event talent, earning All-America honors in the 100 meters and triple jump. She finished 12th among the voting for Athlete of the Year.
A No. 1 ranking in the triple jump for Madu included a high school leading jump of 42-9.75 while posting victories at the Texas Relays, State, and USATF Junior Championships. Ranked No. 2 in the 100, Madu ran 11.49 in the 100 while claiming wins at Texas Relays and the State meet and added a runner-up at the USATF Junior Championships.
Hernandez (Killeen Ellison) ranked No. 3 in the 800 meters as he finished second at Arcadia, won a Texas State title and posted a best of 1:49.33.