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After announcing winners for individual sports in each state, Gatorade has named its best of the best. On Tuesday, Kiki Rice and Colin Sahlman were named the Gatorade Athletes of the Year.
Over Rice’s four years at Sidwell Friends School (Washington, D.C.), she helped the girls basketball team rise to an unbeatable group. She was the point guard for the 30-0 Quakers, who went undefeated and won the State Champions Invitational, a season in which Rice averaged 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game as a senior.
She was named co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and played on the gold-medal-winning U18 national team in the FIBA U18 Americas.
Sahlman continues the legacy of Newbury Park High School track and field dominance. Look in the record book and you will see his name splattered across the pages.
His 5,000-meter time of 14:03.29 set a national high school record. His 3,200-meter time of 8:33.32 set a national high school record. His mile time of 3:56.24 is the third-best in prep history, and his 1,500-meter time of 3:39.59 is fourth-best.
Sahlman will race at Northern Arizona University next season while Rice will head across the country to play basketball at UCLA.
They ended their high school careers at the pinnacle, with championships and recognition as the Gatorade Boys and Girls Athlete of the Year.
Following the announcement, USA TODAY High School Sports participated in a Q&A with the two athletes that centered on sports, the classroom, community service and get-to-know-you ice breakers. Answers are below and have been lightly edited for clarity.
Q: Congratulations on being named the Gatorade Athletes of the Year. Has it been a goal for either of you?
Rice: Yes, it has been. It has been one of mine.
Sahlman: Definitely, for sure. Seeing my teammate [Nico Young] get it two years ago kind of motivated me to try to get it this year.
What’s your best high school memory?
Rice: From a sports standpoint, I’d say one of them would definitely be winning the national championship this past year with my high school team. My freshman year, we started [the season] off, and we definitely weren’t nationally ranked. We weren’t even winning our league. And to now to be national champions, to be playing on ESPN, it was a moment of huge growth and I was super proud of where we got.
Sahlman: Pretty much the highlighted memories that I can think of are athletic achievements. It’s just been non-stop. My favorite memory would be winning the Running Lane National Championships this last year with my team. We went 1-2-3-6 for our top four and it was just cool to share that with them. To have the top three runners in the nation on the same team was pretty cool.
What are your favorite subjects in school?
Rice: My favorite subject is history.
Sahlman: My favorite class I took was a photography class my sophomore year.
What are your go-to karaoke songs?
Sahlman: I don’t do karaoke (laughs).
Rice: I’m not a huge karaoke person either, but maybe “Free Mind” by Tems.
Sahlman: I’m not really a huge music guy, I don’t know.
If there was a movie based on your life or career, who would play you?
Sahlman: Younger Leonardo DiCaprio.
Rice: Maybe Zendaya.
If there was a zombie apocalypse, who would be three pro athletes you would want on your team?
Sahlman: I’d pick some big football players (laughs).
Rice: (also laughs) Conor McGregor, LeBron James and Alex Morgan.
Sahlman: I’d probably have to go with Shaquille O’Neal, Jakob Ingebrigtsen and … I’ll go with Clay Matthews.
I’m surprised you didn’t just go with your teammates and run away from the zombies.
Sahlman: You said professional athletes! I would choose my brother. My brother’s crazy. … He’s an animal.
What are three words to describe your style on the track/court?
Rice: Energetic, competitive and attacker.
Sahlman: I’d have to go with fearless, determined and passionate.
Is there a charity or cause that either you’re involved in or you’d like to get involved with down the road?
Rice: One group that I work with is SportsMom Foundation, a local charity in Washington, D.C. and the DMV area. It’s a charity that helps serve underprivileged minorities, black girls, basically have access to training and basketball equipment and helps fund AAU teams because those are really expensive. It’s something that I donated the money we got for winning the award to.
Sahlman: I’m not currently part of a charity, but if I were to join, it would be animal shelters. I’m a big dog lover, animal lover, so if I were to help with anything it would definitely be that.
If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Rice: I would say to get out of my comfort zone a bit and take some risks. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Sahlman: I wouldn’t say anything to my younger self. I motivated myself through all these years. I developed the character that I am today. I would just let him make the same decisions I did and just be that person.