Hart will go down as one of the greatest distance runners to come from Illinois, if not the greatest. She accumulated 7 individual track titles and 4 cross country titles in the state of Illinois. She also recorded 3 top 20 performances at Nike Cross Nationals and 3 top 5 finishes the Foot Locker Nationals. Hart's list of achievements could go on for days.
The Michigan bound student-athlete only got to race three times in 2020 during the indoor season. Her best performance coming in Mid-February when she ran 5000m in 16:09.56, putting her US No.1 and US No.4 all-time at the distance indoors.
Interview with Hart after her 2019 triple crown at state
CHICAGO (June 25, 2020) - In its 35th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced Katelynne Hart of Glenbard West High School as its 2019-20 Gatorade Illinois Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Hart is the first Gatorade Illinois Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Glenbard West High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Hart as Illinois's best high school girls track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in June, Hart joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt High School, Iowa), Allyson Felix (2002-03, Los Angeles Baptist High School, Calif.), Robert Griffin III (2006-07, Copperas Cove High School, Texas), Grant Fisher (2013-14 & 2014-15, Grand Blanc High School, Mich.) and Candace Hill (2014-15, Rockdale County High School, Ga.).
The 5-foot-4 senior ran the 5000-meter race in 16:09.56 this past winter, which ranked as the nation's No. 1 indoor performance in 2020. She also clocked the country's No. 2 time (4:45.84) in the 1600-meter run. The state's two-time returning Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, Hart has also won three Gatorade Illinois Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year awards, making her the state's most decorated Gatorade award-winner as a runner. She broke the tape in the 800, 1600 and 3200 races at the Class 3A state championship meet in 2019 in addition to running the fastest outdoor mile (4:39.57) in state history.
Hart has volunteered locally on behalf of the Mawi Learning leadership group and her school's Medical and Global Giving club. "What Katelynne Hart has accomplished the past four years, with the official times she posted, the course records and the state titles, is unprecedented for a distance athlete in the state of Illinois," said Glenbard West distance coach Paul Hass. "Nevertheless, Katelynne always embraced the concept of team; the notion that no one person is above the needs of the squad. Rather than limit herself to one or two events to strive for a state record, Katelynne ran multiple events at the state track meet to help garner as many team points possible."
Hart has maintained a 4.78 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at the University of Michigan.
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. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Three-time winner Hart joins recent Gatorade Illinois Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Kathleen Young (2016-17 & 2015-2016, Warrensburg-Latham High School), Brittny Ellis (2014-15, Warren Township High School), and Parker English (2013-14, Evanston Township High School) among the state's list of former award winners.
Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.Gatorade.com/POY, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.