Article by Bill Riley
Photo Credit, Austin Leake
TERRE HAUTE, IN—Jason Swarens is the 2019-20 Gatorade Indiana Boys Track and Field Player of the Year.
In its 35th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company selected Swarens, who is the first Gatorade Indiana Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from South Vigo 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 Swarens as Indiana’s best high school boys track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in July, Swarens 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 South Vigo High School track and football star reached the height of his athletic career last spring, winning the state shot put competition and placing 6th in discus. He also won an Academic All State honorable mention award for track and field in 2019, was team captain, all-conference, a sectional champion in shot put and discus, and the student council award winner.
A varsity football player, he was team captain and was named the outstanding offensive player this fall. He won all-conference honors, was named to the AP Class 5A All-State Defensive Line, the IFCA All-State Defensive Line, and was the student council award winner for football.
An exceptional student, Swarens took several AP courses, was named to the exceptional honor roll, and was a member of the National Honor Society. On Saturday mornings in the fall, he volunteered to be a member of the junior varsity football chain crew. He has volunteered at the Terre Haute Strawberry Festival, the Terre Town Fall Festival, and the Diversity Walk.
Swarens has served as an instructor for younger track athletes and has volunteered locally on behalf of his community’s Diversity Walk. “Jason is the first one to practice—whether that is the weight room or the track—and he is the last one to leave,” said Terre Haute South Vigo coach Jonathan Lee. “His determination to be the best at whatever he’s doing is evident in the way he carries himself, along with the way he pursues each and every task.”
He will compete in track and field for the University of Wisconsin-Madison next year and plans to major in engineering.
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.
Swarens joins recent Gatorade Indiana Boys Track & Field Athletes of the Year Cole Hocker (2018-19, Cathedral High School), Nate Patterson (2017-18, Plymouth High School), Ryan Lipe (2016-17, Carmel High School), Ben Veatch (2015- 16, Carmel High School), Deakin Volz (2014-15, Bloomington High School South), and Deakin Volz (2013-14, Bloomington High School South) 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.