OUR PANEL OF PREP EXPERTS had little trouble choosing the successor to Alan Webb as Boys AOD, with almost all the votes for No. 1 going to vaulter-supreme Mondo Duplantis, who was twice (’17 & ’18) a unanimous choice as Athlete Of The Year. Here’s how our Top 10 played out:
1. Mondo Duplantis (Lafayette, Louisiana)
When you rank No. 6 in the world (yes, world) as a junior, it’s a pretty good sign your prep career is on the fast track to success. The signs had come earlier, of course, as the Cajun/Swede had frosh and soph All-Am ratings of 5 and 2. But it was as an 11th-grader that he moved to the top of the HS world—and into the world’s consciousness—with a ’17 campaign which saw him raise the absolute HSR 6 times, including the first prep 19-footer and topping out at 19-4¼. His senior year—one in which he rose to No. 4 in the World Rankings—produced another 5 absolute HSRs, with the last of them, 19-10¼, looking like it will last for many-many years. He went undefeated by high schoolers in his two AOY years and ended up with the 25 highest vaults in prep history, including all 23 of the 19-footers.
2. Noah Lyles (Williams, Alexandria, Virginia)
Lyles joined Duplantis as a 2-time AOY, rating as No. 1 in both ’15 & ’16 and earning some support as AOD. He was a double No. 1 All-America in the 100 and 200 both years and added a No. 3 in the half-lapper as a soph. He broke the national 200 record with his 20.09, claiming 4th in the ’16 Olympic Trials. In the 100, his 10.14 in ’15 remains the national junior-class record and stands at No. 6 on the all-time list.
3. Ryan Crouser (Barlow, Gresham, Oregon)
The year after cousin Sam won top honors, the ’11 AOY had an amazing senior season, claiming the national discus record at 237-6. He backed that up with 3 throws in the all-time top 8. He also sparkled with the shot, producing the best non-Michael Carter throw ever with a 77-2¾ that destroyed the old indoor best by more than 2ft. A 63-11 with the 16-pounder also gave him the national indoor record in that event.
4. Sam Crouser (Gresham, Oregon)
A threat to the national javelin record when ’10 began, Crouser achieved that goal not only once, but twice, reaching 244-2 & 255-4. But that was only part of his arsenal, as he was also No. 12 on the shot list (64-5½) and threw the discus 205-10 to earn No. 1 All-America honors in that event as well. He was a unanimous choice as AOY.
5. Matthew Boling (Strake, Houston, Texas)
A unique pair of No. 5 All-America ratings in the 400 and long jump as a junior gave hints of what was to come in Boling’s senior year. He roared to the AOY title after becoming the first ever to rate No. 1 in the 100, 200 and LJ. Marks-wise he recorded the fastest all-conditions 100 ever (9.98w), became No. 8 ever in the 200 (20.31) and jumped to No. 7 ever at 26-3½.
6. Trentavis Friday (Cherryville, North Carolina)
The ’14 AOY showed turns of speed like no prep before him. First he lowered the still-standing national 100 record to 10.00. He was perhaps better in the 200, where he won the World Junior Championships gold and produced the two fastest all-conditions times ever by a high schooler, 20.03 and 20.04.
7. Michael Norman (Vista Murrieta, Murrieta, California)
He never rated higher than No. 3 in AOY balloting, but the all-around SoCal sprint star reached that level twice as he picked off 5 All-Am ratings in 3 events: in ’15 he was No. 2 in the 200 and No. 1 in the 400 and in ’16 he was No. 2 in the 100, 200 & 400. His 20.14 as a senior missed the previous HSR in the 200 by just 0.01 and earned him 5th in the Olympic Trials.
8. Drew Hunter (Loudoun Valley, Purcellville, Virginia)
Like Norman, Hunter made the overall Top 10 on the strength of a pair of non-AOY years, claiming No. 5 in ’15 and No. 4 in ’16. He did his best work during the indoor portion of his senior season, claiming national undercover records in the 1500 (3:41.93), mile (3:57.81) and 3000 (7:59.33). That last also rates as the absolute HSR.
9. Gunnar Nixon (Santa Fe, Edmond, Oklahoma)
The versatile 10-eventer missed being AOY by just 3 points in ’11, trailing only Ryan Crouser. He scored a decathlon trifecta as a senior, claiming the national records with the HS (8035), Junior (7748) and international (7524) implements. As a junior he had raised the national class record with the prep implements to 7573.
10. Rudy Winkler (Averill Park, New York)
After a No. 10 in AOY voting as a junior, the ball-and-chain star made it all the way to the top in ’13. In repeating as No. 1 in the hammer (after a No. 3 as a soph), he claimed new national standards with both the HS (260-5) and Junior (249-0) implements. Internationally, he made the World Youth final in the 10th grade and World Junior final in the 11th. ◻︎