Dracut's Shepard named Gatorade Player of Year

In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Karina Shepard of Dracut High School as its 2013-14 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Shepard is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Dracut High School.

The 5-foot-10 senior middle-distance runner won the 800-meter run with a meet-record time of 2:07.14 at the All-State championships this season. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Shepard also anchored the fourth-place 4x800-meter relay squad that crossed the line in 9:25.57. At the Division III East championships, Shepard also won the 800 in 2:13.12 and anchored the winning 4x800 in 9:41.85. Her 800 at the All-State meet ranked as the nation’s No. 9 performance among prep competitors in 2014 at the time of her selection.

Shepard has maintained a 4.46 weighted GPA in the classroom. In addition to donating her time as a member of the National Honor Society, she has also volunteered locally on behalf of her church, the BayState Marathon and as a youth track instructor.

“Karina Shepard is perfect for an award like this,” said John Byrnes, head coach of rival Tewksbury High. “To be honest, she’s so good that she can make a 2:07 look boring. I’ve seen her routinely take 800’s out in 61 seconds in the quarter. Well, when she’s in that mode—who cares if it’s a league championship, state class meet or all-states—the race is over.”

Shepard has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at Stanford University this fall.

Two-time winner Shepard joins Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Carla Forbes (2011-12, Newton North High School), Nadia Eke (2010 – 11, Holy Name Central Catholic High School), Deanna Latham (2009-10, Triton Regional), Emily Jones (2008–09 & 2007-08,The Bromfield School), and Arantxa King (2006-2007, Medford) among the state’s list of former award winners.