THE KEY TO WINNING a women’s AOY honor this year in any of our four categories was recordsetting. Recordsetting judged by both quality and quantity:
World Women: Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela)
Yulimar Rojas’s season was short but her triple jumping was not. In her first meet the 26-year-old Venezuelan missed her own WR by just 2cm. In her second a 51-7¾ (15.74) bound crushed the old mark by a full foot and also claimed the Absolute WR. The year’s only woman WR setter, she was a slam dunk choice to win her second AOY title in 3 years.
Honorable Mention: defending AOY Gudaf Tsegay won the WC 1500 gold and had the year’s 3 fastest times, all of them rating in the all-time top 6.
The 5 previous winners: ’21 — Gudaf Tsegay (Ethiopia); ’20 — Rojas; ’19 — Mariya Lasitskene (Russia); ’18 — Lasitskene; ’17 — Laura Muir (Great Britain).
U.S. Women: Ajee’ Wilson (adidas)
It was a tough decision: which of the two U.S. gold medalists from Belgrade was the best American overall? Was it vaulter Sandi Morris or halfmiler Ajee’ Wilson? Each was undefeated in 5 meets. We finally gave the nod to Wilson — for the third time in 4 years — based on her 1:59.09 being the =No. 9 performance in U.S. history while Morris had nothing in the top 10.
Honorable Mentions in addition to Morris: Belgrade silver winners Mikiah Brisco in the 60 and Chase Ealey in the shot. Brisco’s 6.99 made her the No. 3 American ever and Ealey’s 66-3¾ (20.21) tied the American Record.
The 5 previous winners: ’21 — Athing Mu (Texas A&M); ’20 — Wilson; ’19 — Wilson; ’18 — Keni Harrison (adidas); ’17 — Gwen Berry (Nike).
Collegiate Women: Jasmine Moore (Florida)
With 3 superb candidates, 2 had to lose despite recordsetting credentials. In the final analysis the close decision went to Jasmine Moore after her LJ/TJ double wins at the NCAA. She led the yearly list in each event (22-11¾/6.75 and 47-9/14.55), with the latter mark also enjoying Collegiate Record status.
Honorable Mentions to Moore’s Gator teammate Grace Stark and Kentucky’s Abby Steiner. Stark also had a big Nationals, tieing the 60H CR and taking 4th in the flat 60, while Wildcat 200 champ Steiner set an AR and two CRs in the full-lapper and was the 60 runner-up.
The 5 previous winners: ’21 — Tyra Gittens (Texas A&M); ’20 — Olivia Gruver (Washington); ’19 — Lexi Jacobus (Arkansas); ’18 — Keturah Orji (Georgia); ’17 — Raven Saunders (Mississippi).
High School Girls: Roisin Willis (Stevens Point, Wisconsin)
A battle of the W’s came down to Roisin Willis vs. Juliette Whittaker (Mt. de Sales, Catonsville, Maryland). They crossed over a lot on the yearly lists, but unfortunately never went head-to-head.
Each scored a national record, Willis in the 800 (2:00.06), Whittaker in the 1000 (2:39.41). Each led other lists, Willis the 500 and Whittaker the 1500 and mile. Overall, Willis was in the top 3 in 5 events on the yearly list, Whittaker in 4. Overall? A slight edge to Willis’s 800 record having a lot more historical impact than Whittaker’s kilo. But it could have gone either way.
In addition to Whittaker, HM status to 50/55/60 recordsetter Shawnti Jackson (Wakefield, Raleigh, North Carolina) and the vaulting Moll twins, Amanda and Hanna (Capital, Olympia, Washington). Amanda equaled the HSR at 14-9, but overall Hanna beat her 4-1, making them all but inseparable. Which is a twin kinda thing.
The 5 previous winners: ’21 — Sophia Gorriaran (Brown, Providence, Rhode Island); ’20 — Athing Mu (Central, Trenton, New Jersey); ’19 — Katelyn Tuohy (North Rockland, Thiells, New York); ’18 — Tuohy; ’17 — Sammy Watson (Rush-Henrietta, Henrietta, New York).