4A State Champions Named Gatorade State Track & Field Athletes of the Year

Westside graduate Dennis Martin and Spring Valley rising senior Kate Niehaus were named 2005 South Carolina Gatorade Boys and Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year.

"I am very honored to be named the Gatorade Athlete of the Year," Niehaus said. "I actually know a lot of the other runners who won the award from other states. Also, congratulations to Dennis Martin."

Dennis Martin led the way for South Carolina in the hurdle event with a top-three finishing time of 13.99 at the Nike Outdoor Championships. In the finals Martin tied for fourth in 13.90.

Martin set a new 400 hurdle meet record (54.73) at the Dekalb International Prep Classic in Atlanta on May 28.

In the 4A State Championship meet Martin placed first in the 110-meter hurdles and also captured the 400-meter hurdles title, helping Westside place fourth in the team standings.

Martin moved from fourth in the preliminaries of the 55-meter hurdles to first in the finals with a US No. 1 time of 7.56 at the LSU Indoor High School Invitational on Jan. 8.

Martin along with teammates Brandon Brown, Martez Brown and Mauricus Brown set a new Nike Indoor Championships record of 29.45 in the 4x55 hurdle relay last season.

Martin will attend the University of Florida in August.

Niehaus finished ninth overall in the two mile event in 10:38.28 at the 2005 Nike Outdoor Championships.

"At Nike Outdoor Nationals I felt strong and ready, and I was happy with my performance in the race until I was tripped with 600m to go, just as the pack was surging," Niehaus said. "After coming to a sudden standstill as everyone else began surging it was hard to make up the ground, but unfortunately it is one of those situations that I will just have to learn from."

At the 2005 State Championships Niehaus showed the importance of being a team member as the Vikings captured the 3200 relay State Championship along with taking home titles and new state records in the 1600 (4:59.14) and 3200 (10:47.92) events over the two day meet. Spring Valley also captured the team title in the girl's competition.

"Overall I was happy with this track season," said Niehaus. "It was great for our team to win the state championship (I also just saw that we placed 10th in the country in the "Nike GHAC relays"). Our team was pretty close and I've had a lot of fun with the other girls. It will be sad with the seniors leaving, but we will still have a strong team coming back next year. I also individually accomplished several goals that have eluded me for awhile, so that was satisfying."

Continuing in Niehaus' footsteps are sisters Emily (rising sophomore) and Annie (rising eighth grader).

On March 13, Niehaus finished first in the Nike Indoor Championships two-mile in 10:31.87. In 2004 Niehaus finished 27th in the two-mile event at the adidas Outdoor Championships.

"I'm excited about my last high school season of cross-country, and I'll be looking to improve upon all of my performances from last year," said Niehaus.

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