There can be only one. Well, two technically. One of each gender. But that kind of messes up the reference. Thousands of West Pasco student-athletes participated in high school sports throughout the 2013-14 academic calendar. Some ran and some jumped, while others threw and others dunked. For nine months these athletes took to fields and courts and tracks and pools, constantly pushing themselves in the pursuit of excellence and victory.
That cumulative effort produced week after week of outstanding accomplishments turned in all over the county. For four years now, The Suncoast News has shined a spotlight on many of these feats each Saturday with its “Athlete of the Week,” sponsored by The Dan Wright Corporation. Of these deserving and dedicated competitors, two are then selected each year to be The Suncoast News “Athletes of the Year” – one male and one female. This year's West Pasco recipients are: FEMALE Taylor Anderson J.W. Mitchell High School Junior/Swimming and Track and Field Among a deep group of worthy nominees, it's hard to pass on an athlete that earned state championships in two different sports. Mitchell's Taylor Anderson wrapped up a stunning junior year by doing just that. Anderson's first gold medal of the 2013-2014 school year came during the fall in the pool. She won the 50-yard freestyle swimming final with a speedy time of 23.39 seconds. Six months later she was back on the state championship stage, this time representing the Mustangs' track and field team. Specializing in the pole vault, Anderson's final jump of 11 feet, 6 inches earned her gold medal number two. MALE Jason Heinrich River Ridge High School Junior/Baseball At the beginning of the baseball season, premier amateur scouting service Perfect Game USA included River Ridge's Jason Heinrich on the first team of its annual Underclassmen Preseason All-American Team. The junior didn't disappoint. Heinrich more than justified his selection by turning in an all-around dominant season on the diamond. The University of Central Florida commit went 9-1 on the mound with 70 strikeouts over 59 innings pitched and carried an impressive 1.90 ERA. As good as Heinrich was at lower opposing hitters' batting averages, he was equally proficient at raising other pitchers' ERAs. He led the county in average (.534), OPS (1.684), home runs (7) and RBIs (33).