The Fastest Girl in California Does It Again!
by Julie Mason
In its 25th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, announced on June 30, 2010 thatASHTON PURVIS '10 of Saint Elizabeth High School is its 2009-10 Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Purvis was previously chosen the Gatorade California Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, the first athlete to be chosen from Saint Elizabeth 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 track, distinguishes Purvis as the nation's best high school track & field athlete.
The 5-foot-8 sprinter won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.17 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 22.90 at the California Interscholastic Federation state championship meet this spring, leading the Mustangs to a fifth-place finish as a team. Her 200 meter time ranked as the nation's No. 1 clocking among prep competitors in 2010, while her 100-meter time ranked No.2. Purvis' season-best 100 ranks sixth in prep history and only eight prep girls have ever run a faster 200. The 2010 Female Athlete of the Year as named by the Bay Area News Group, Purvis won the 200-meter dash and the 60-meter dash at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships in March. A member of Team USA at the International Association of Athletics Federation World Youth Championships in each of the past three summers, she was the fastest American in earning bronze in both the 100 and 200 last summer. She captured first place in the 100-meter dash at the 2008 CIF state meet as a sophomore and first place in the 200-meter dash as a junior at the 2009 CIF state meet.
To receive her award, Ashton was invited back to the East Oakland Youth Development Center, where she does volunteer work and began running for Cunis Taylor, her cur rent coach and the Head Track Coach at Laney Community College . She was teaching a class on how to get to college when in walked Leon Powe, a forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Just as she was wondering whether the class had been double-booked, Leon handed Ashton her trophy from Gatorade/ESPN. She was floored, to say the least. Next thing she knew, she was down stairs at a press con ference with TV and newspaper cameras trained on her.
Ashton was ready. After she smiled for what seemed like a million flashbulbs, she said, "It's like all that hard work has all paid off." And Ashton knows hard work: she has maintained her B average while competing up and down California , in other states, and internationally. Her older sisters, Julian and Amber, also run track. Their mother, Cheri Spigner, has devoted her life to supporting their goals. The Gatorade/ESPNRise national award is a fitting end to a stellar high school career. Ashton has signed with the University of Miami , Amber is at the University of Oregon , and Julian '08, also a nationally ranked track and field athlete, is currently running for the University of Michigan .
Bob Howard, recently retired Athletic Director at St. Elizabeth, summed it up: "She's already run against college runners and beat them. When you get her on the track, there's nobody like her. I've already gone to the Olympics with our athletes twice, and with Ashton, I may have that chance again."
Ashton Purvis holds up her Gatorade/ESPN trophy...
...which was handed to her by Leon Powe, a forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Beginning with the 2011 Graduation,Ashton Purvis and her older sister,Julian Purvis '08, an exceptional track athlete herself, are being honored with an athletic award in their name -- theAshton and Julian Purvis Athlete Award-- given to an outstanding senior female athlete.