Who's the greatest high school football player of all-time? Is it Peyton Manning? Perhaps Emmitt Smith? What about the greatest basketball player? LeBron or Kareem?
What about soccer, boys or girls? And baseball or softball?
MaxPreps attempts to answer the question of just who is the G.O.A.T. — the Greatest of All-Time. While the list is extremely subjective, MaxPreps attempted to identify the greatest high school athletes of all-time in every sport included in the National Federation of High Schools record book. This includes the high-profile sports like football, basketball and baseball/softball, but also those like field hockey, swimming, tennis and even bowling.
Next week, we will present the modern-day G.O.A.T.s — each sport's best high school athlete playing the game today.
Football — Peyton Manning, Newman (New Orleans), 1994
Named the Gatorade National Player of the Year and a Parade Magazine All-American his senior year at Newman. Went on to be a five-time MVP in the NFL.Boys basketball — LeBron James, St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio), 2003
A three-time Parade All-American, James led his team to a national championship as a senior and went on to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. An 18-time all-star, James will likely surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's all-time leading scorer sometime during the 2022-23 season.Girls basketball — Cheryl Miller, Poly (Riverside, Calif.), 1982
Named Parade All-American four times, Miller set a high school record with 105 points in a single game. Later named the NCAA player of the year three times.Baseball — Alex Rodriguez, Westminster Christian (Miami), 1993
Rodriguez led Westminster to a national championship as a junior and was the first overall pick in the 1993 MLB Draft. He was a 14-time all-star and three-time American League MVP.Softball — Lisa Fernandez, Saint Joseph (Lakewood, Calif.), 1989
Fernandez led St. Joseph to a CIF state championship and was the Cal-Hi Sports state player of the year as a pitcher/hitter. Participated in four Olympics and won three gold and a silver for Team USA.Boys wrestling — Cael Sanderson, Wasatch (Heber City, Utah), 1997
Sanderson captured four state championships in high school and had a record of 127-3. In college, he became the first wrestler to finish his career with a perfect record (159-0) and four national championships. He also won gold in the Olympics at Athens in 2004.Girls wrestling — Helen Maroulis, Magruder (Rockville, Md.), 2009
Maroulis became the first American to win a gold medal at the Olympics in women's wrestling in Rio De Janeiro in 2016. In high school, Maroulis wrestled against the boys in Maryland and took sixth place as a freshman in 2006. Boys lacrosse — Jim Brown, Manhasset (N.Y.), 1953
A Hall of Fame running back in the NFL, Brown also played basketball, baseball, track and field and lacrosse at Manhasset. Long Island is home to many great lacrosse players and Brown is considered, by some, to be the best. He earned All-Met honors in the sport three years and earned All-American honors at Syracuse.Girls lacrosse — Taylor Cummings, McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.), 2012
A member of four state championship teams at McDonogh, Cummings earned multiple All-American and national player of the year honors as a senior. She twice earned national player of the year honors in college and won a world championship with Team USA in 2022.Boys golf — Tiger Woods, Western (Anaheim, Calif.), 1994
Winner of 15 Majors, Woods played high school golf and set Southern Section records while winning a pair of section individual titles. He also became the only three-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion while in high school.Girls golf — Nancy Lopez, Goddard (Roswell, N.M.), 1975
Took fourth place in the state meet as a senior at Goddard while competing in the boys state championship meet. Competing against women, Lopez won the U.S. Junior Open in 1972 and 1974 and the U.S. Women's Open in 1974.Boys soccer — Kyle Rote Jr., Highland Park (Dallas), 1968
An all-state football player for the Scots with 17 career interceptions as a defensive back, Rote Jr., son of the former New York Giant receiver, also played soccer in high school and eventually became the No. 1 overall draft pick in the NASL draft. He later became the only U.S.-born player to ever lead the NASL in scoring.Girls soccer — Mia Hamm, Lake Braddock (Burke, Va.), Va., 1989
Generally considered the greatest women's soccer player in the United States, Hamm won two gold medals in the Olympics. She got her start in high school in Wichita Falls (Texas) and made the U.S. women's national team at the age of 15. Played her senior year at Lake Braddock and led team to a state championship.Volleyball — Keri Walsh, Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), 1996
The first Gatorade National Girls Volleyball Player of the Year, Walsh helped the Monarchs win three straight state championships. She went on to win 50 gold medals in the Olympics, the World Championships and the FIVB World Tour.Boys swimming — Mark Spitz, Santa Clara (Calif.), 1968
Since Michael Phelps turned professional at the age of 16, we'll go with Mark Spitz as the greatest high school swimmer. He competed for Santa Clara High and set national age group records and eventually a world record in the 400-meter freestyle. Went on to win seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics.Girls swimming — Katie Ledecky, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (Bethesda, Md.), 2015
The all-time medal winner in world competition with 22, Ledecky set multiple national high school records while at Stone Ridge. She won her first Olympic gold medal at the age of 15.Boys track and field — Jim Ryun, East (Wichita, Kan.), 1965
Became the first high school runner to break the four-minute mile threshold, a feat he achieved five times during his prep days. He held the high school record for the mile run for 36 years. He is still the youngest U.S. track athlete to qualify for the Olympics, running in 1964 at the age of 17. He won a silver medal at the 1968 Olympics.Girls track and field — Marion Jones, Thousand Oaks (Calif.), 1992
A three-time Gatorade National Player of the Year, Jones won the CIF 100-meters four straight years. Jones later won three gold medals at the 2004 but was disqualified due to steroid use.Boys bowling — Mark Roth, Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 1969
While several of the nation's top all-time bowlers never bowled in high school, Roth did compete at Sheepshead Bay. He went on to win 34 PBA championships and was a four-time PBA player of the year.Girls bowling — Liz Johnson, Niagara-Wheatfield, 1992
One of the top softball pitchers in New York as a senior, Johnson was also a standout bowler. She has won 29 PWBA titles and was a three-time PWBA player of the year.Boys cross country — Dathan Ritzenhein, Rockford (Mich.), 2001
Set numerous state and national records in high school and also defeated renowned high school cross country standouts Alan Webb and Ryan Hall in head-to-head competition. Ritzenhein participated in the marathon in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics but did not medal.Girls cross country — Katelyn Tuohy, North Rockland (Thiells, N.Y.), 2019
A three-time Gatorade cross country Runner of the Year and also earned national athlete of the year and track and field athlete of the year while at North Rockland. She has twice earned All-American honors at North Carolina State.Field hockey — Mackenzie Allessie, Donegal (Mt. Joy, Pa.), 2018
No high school field hockey player is even close to Allessie's national record of 351 goals, scoring more than double the No. 2 player. She's also been a member of the United States team since graduating high school. Boys gymnastics — Paul Hamm, Waukesha South (Waukesha, Wis.), 2001
Although Wisconsin didn't have boys gymnastics while Hamm was in school, he made the Olympic team, along with his brother, as a high school senior. He went on to win the all-around gold in 2004 at Athens.Girls gymnastics — Shannon Miller, Edmond North (Edmond, Okla.), 1995
While Simone Biles attended home school during her high school career, Miller attended Edmond North through her senior year while winning a silver medal in the all-around at the age of 15 in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She also won two golds in Atlanta in 1996.Boys ice hockey — Brian Leetch, Avon Old Farms (Avon, Conn.), 1986
Played two seasons at Avon Old Farms and had 70 goals and 90 assists as a defenseman. He played 18 years in the NHL and twice won the Norris Trophy as the league's best defender.Girls ice hockey — Natalie Darwitz, Eagan (Eagan, Minn.), 2002
One of the most decorated hockey players ever, Darwitz scored 487 points in her high school career and was a three-time All-American at Minnesota. Also a member of three Olympic medal-winning teams (2002, 2006, 2010).Boys tennis — John McEnroe, Trinity (New York City), 1977
While players like Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors went pro midway through their high school careers, McEnroe stayed an amateur all through high school. He played on the varsity team at Trinity and the summer after graduation he won the junior singles title at the French Open and reached the semifinals of Wimbledon. By 1980 he was ranked as the No. 1 player in the world.Girls tennis — Chris Evert, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 1972
A member of the Florida High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, Evert was a three-time state champion in single and a two-time doubles champion. Two years after graduation she won the French Open and Wimbledon and went on to win 18 major championships.Boys volleyball — Karch Kiraly, Santa Barbara (Calif.), 1978
The Southern Section MVP after leading Santa Barbara to a section championship in 1978, Kiraly went on to a Hall of Fame career at UCLA and won gold in three different Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1996).Boys water polo — Tony Azevedo, Woodrow Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.), 2000
Led Wilson to four straight Southern Section championships and was named the section MVP in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He's won gold in the Pan American games five times and silver in the 2008 Olympics.Girls Water Polo — Brenda Villa, Bell Gardens (Calif.), 1998
Villa played on the boys team in high school because Bell Gardens did not have a girls team. She still managed to earn All-Southern Section first team honors three straight years. She has played in four Olympic Games (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012), winning the gold at London in 2012.