Tewksbury's Makayla Paige named Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of Year

Makayla Paige: The Girl To Beat

TEWKSBURY — Makayla Paige, a sophomore from Tewksbury, was honored as the Gatorade Girls High School Track and Field Athlete of the Year for 2019 in the state of Massachusetts.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track, distinguishes Paige as Massachusetts' best high school girls track & field athlete.

Paige is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in June.

The 5-foot-1 sophomore earned All-American honors by placing third in the 800-meter run at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor this past season. Paige's time of 2:06.27 ranked No. 8 in the nation among prep competitors at the time of her selection. Paige won the 800 at the state meet and she ranked No. 1 in the state in the 400-meter dash and the 400-meter hurdles. The Massachusetts State Track Association Athlete of the Year for indoor track, she set a state record this winter with a time of 1:29.71 in the 600-meter run.

"I feel that the title (All-American) isn't what means the most to me, it is more the time," said Paige. "Before the race I told myself if you run 2:06 and came in 20th, that would be awesome."

"This was the end of a spectacular year for her athletically, but I think her biggest growth came in learning how to navigate through these incredibly anxiety inducing events," said coach Fran Cusick. "She's still figuring it out and it isn't always smooth, but with the support network she has I am confident that she will be making headlines for years to come in this sport."

Paige has volunteered locally as a youth running coach and has donated her time to a fundraising campaign to benefit She's The First, which helps young women from underprivileged communities further their education. "Makayla Paige is an exceptional athlete," said Katie Andrade, head coach of Central Catholic High. "She is strong, versatile and a fierce yet graceful competitor. She is a once-in-a-generation athlete."

Paige has maintained a weighted 4.07 GPA in the classroom. She will begin her junior year of high school this fall.

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. From the 12 national winners, one male and one female athlete are each named Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year. In all, 607 athletes are honored each year.