Video: MaxPreps Female Athlete of the Year Tara DavisCalifornia star joins list that includes Missy Franklin, Ogwumike sisters and Jordan Hasay.
just kept hopping.
The spunky and fleet Agoura (Calif.)
senior had just tore down the long jump runway to the thrill and rhythmic clapping of more than 11,000 sweltering fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis on June 3.
When she landed deep into the pit, the crowd collectively groaned, then roared its approval. That's when Davis began to hop in anticipation. And hop. And hop.
When she heard she had broke the 24-year-old California state-meet record with a mark of 22 feet, 1 inch, she turned to the press box side where the majority of the fans sat and raised her arms triumphantly. Each time she flailed a fist, the crowd cheered a little louder.
The University of Georgia-bound athlete not only won the title that had eluded her over a brilliant four-year career, but she broke the record of a track and field legend Marion Jones.
And it started perhaps the greatest single meet performance by a high school track and field athlete.
Later she ran the fastest all-conditions 100-meter hurdles time in high school history — 12.83 aided by a 3.7-meter-per-second wind — and recorded a triple jump of 43-4, the 10th best mark in U.S. history.
The 5-foot-3 Davis became the first athlete — male or female — to record three top 10 national marks at the same meet.
In addition to that, she almost won the California meet — considered the best in the country — all by herself, with 30 points. That fell just a point shy of 31 for champion Long Beach Poly, which won its 15th crown.
"It feels amazing," she said during a fireworks show after the meet. "I hit PRs in every event and to do it in my last high school meet is perfect.
"It all started with the long jump win – and breaking Marion Jones' record. That gave me more confidence throughout. I accomplished everything I wanted to."
Two weeks later, she added one more gold to her resume when she was picked the 2016-17 MaxPreps Female Athlete of the Year.
The vivacious senior was surprised with the trophy the morning of Junior Nationals in Sacramento by MaxPreps host Chris Stonebraker. "I'm pretty surprised. … shocked. …it came out of nowhere," she said that day.
Four days later in a phone call to Georgia, where she was enrolling in college, Davis said: "It is just starting to sink in. I mean, it's just mind-boggling. There are so many amazing athletes — not only track-and-field — but in the country. To win this is incredibly special."
It had to be special to edge Sydney McLaughlin, the remarkable 400-meter hurdler and quarter-miler from Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.)
, who was the youngest member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
Now 17, McLaughlin backed up her Olympic summer by winning her record 11th New Jersey career state title. She finished the national leader in the 400 (51.88), 300 hurdles (38.90) and 400 hurdles (53.82).
Davis edged McLaughlin by the closest vote in the history of the MaxPreps award, which emphasizes high school competition. Others to receive votes included MaxPreps Volleyball Player of the Year Lexi Sun
of Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, Calif.)
, MaxPreps Basketball Player of the Year Megan Walker
of Monacan (Richmond, Va.)
, and softball standout Taylor Dockins
, of Norco (Calif.)
McLaughlin, a Kentucky signee, and Davis will be seeing each other at SEC meets throughout their careers. The two were good friends on USA Track & Field's World Youth Team.
"She's doing great things and I'm really happy for her," Davis said of McLaughlin. "She's an amazing athlete."
Davis, a native of Texas, had originally committed to the University of Texas but after a coaching shakeup decided on Georgia.
Several other World Youth Team members are also Bulldogs, and she's already made more friends. The momentum of the high school season and winning the MaxPreps award, she said, has given her plenty of confidence heading into her freshman year.
"I went into the state finals wanting to not feel any disappointments," she said. "I felt going in that this was my time to shine. This is what I came here to do and I did."Past MaxPreps Female High School Athletes of the Year
2015-16 — Mikayla Pivec, Lynnwood (Bothell, Wash.): Cross country, basketball, track and field
2013-14 – Ariana Washington, Long Beach Poly (Long Beach, Calif.): Track and field
2012-13 – Missy Franklin, Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.): Swimming
2011-12 – Missy Franklin, Regis Jesuit (Aurora, Colo.): Swimming
2010-11 – Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.): Basketball
2009-10 – Chiney Ogwumike, Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas): Basketball, volleyball
2008-09 – Jordan Hasay, Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo, Calif.): Cross country, track and field
2007-08 – Nneka Ogwumike, Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas): Basketball, volleyball