There have been many standout achievements by female sports stars throughout the year, and we’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best. With the school year behind us, let’s take a look at the candidates for the Tribune’s 2010-11 Female Athlete of the Year. To vote, click here. Our selection will be announced June 24:
Jasmine Todd, Jr., Chandler track and field
Even with a hamstring injury that slowed her down, Todd continued her dominance in several events this season. She set the triple-jump state record with a mark of 41-5 at the Chandler Rotary, which bested the old mark by 6 inches. Todd won that event and the long jump at the state meet, and finished third in the 100-meter dash. She may have captured all three events if she had been completely healthy throughout the season. Todd, a junior, has already had an extraordinarily successful career, and will have one more season to wow spectators next year.
Hannah Carson, Sr., Chandler track and field
Todd and Carson were the headliners of a Chandler girls track team that dominated the competition at state and will go for a second straight national championship at the Nike Track Nationals later this month in Eugene, Ore. Even though Carson doesn’t even compete in her best event — javelin — because it isn’t available in high school competition, she was still a standout this year. Carson didn’t lose to an Arizona competitor in the shot put all season, and her best throw of 45 feet, 6 inches is tied for fourth best in Arizona history. She also won the discus at state, and her best throw of the year, 159-4, is the third best mark in state history and outdistanced all competitors by nearly 23 feet. Just to show she wasn’t all about the throws, Carson also finished No. 2 in Division I in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 8 inches at state. She is committed to Texas Tech.
Gracie Goulder, Sr., Cactus Shadows softball
Goulder played baseball growing up and didn’t start playing softball until her freshman year with the Falcons, but she exploded this year. Goulder set multiple team records, batting .595 with an on-base percentage of .767. She didn’t have much power her first couple years on varsity, but smacked seven homers with a slugging percentage of 1.075 this year to go along with her natural speed that resulted in 46 stolen bases. Goulder played a huge role in leading Cactus Shadows to a 20-9 record and the 4A Division I quarterfinals. Goulder has committed to play for Georgia next season.
Rylie Johnson, Sr., Hamilton girls soccer
When the best player on the best team in the state does whatever it takes to win, everyone else can’t help but fall in line. Rylie Johnson had a very good season statistically for the Huskies, scoring 25 goals and assisting on 13 others, but it was her willingness to fill in any role that helped Hamilton to a state championship and the state’s first undefeated girls soccer season since 1996. Throughout the playoffs, Johnson continually found ways to impact the matches, She had a hat trick in the first round against Phoenix Alhambra and had a goal and assisted on the game-winner in the semifinals against Mesquite. In the state championship against Xavier, she assisted on the match’s lone goal by Sam Weiss, then moved to defense for the closing moments to help stop the Gators’ last-ditch hopes. Hamilton finished the year 25-0-1, in large part due to Johnson, the Tribune and Gatorade Player of the Year.
Kelli Benjamin, Sr., Gilbert swimming
Benjamin finished in 23rd place out of 24 swimmers in the state preliminary race as a freshman, the first year she tried competitive swimming. Following years of hard work, she zoomed all the way up the charts as a senior. Benjamin won the 100-meter freestyle at the state championships in a time of 50.19 seconds. She followed it up with a victory in the 50-meter freestyle in 23.07 seconds, which was less than two-tenths of a second away from setting a state record. Both times were easily good enough for automatic All-American times. Benjamin will swim for Texas A&M in the fall.
Theresa Wirth, Seton basketball; Jordyn Moody, Hamilton volleyball; Sarah Fakler, Xavier track and cross country; Kyung Kim, Hamilton golf; Erica Medlin, Mesquite tennis.