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Two Gatorade ‘Player of the Year’ winners have Powell ties

At left, Kalina Smith - at right, McCade Johnson (right), with his father Cody At left, Kalina Smith - at right, McCade Johnson (right), with his father Cody Courtesy photos

Two high school athletes who grew up in Powell were recognized as the best in Wyoming this year.

Last month, McCade Johnson of Laramie was named the Gatorade Wyoming Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year for 2016-2017 after a stellar season of running hurdles.

Earlier this year, Kalina Smith of Gillette was named the Gatorade Wyoming Girls Basketball Player of the Year. That announcement was made in March, while she previously received that honor for volleyball in January.

The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character.

McCade Johnson

As a 6 foot, 1 inch senior hurdler at Laramie High School, Johnson captured a pair of individual titles this past season at the Class 4A state meet, leading the Plainsmen to a second-place finish as a team.

Johnson won the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.57 seconds and the 300-meter hurdles in 37.68. He was undefeated in the hurdles this spring and his winning time of 37.10 seconds in the 300 hurdles at the Class 4A East regionals ranked as the nation’s No. 27 performance among prep competitors in 2017 at the time of his selection.

A devoted parishioner in his church community, where is a member of his youth group, Johnson has volunteered locally as a youth football and track and field coach.

“McCade Johnson is a competitor who is incredibly fast over the hurdles,” said Jesse Blunn, head coach at Cheyenne East High. “He is very level-headed and based all of his goals on hard work.”

Johnson maintained a 3.69 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a letter of intent to compete on an athletic scholarship at the University of Wyoming this fall.

He is the son of Cody and Sheri Johnson, formerly of Powell.

Kalina Smith

As a 5 foot, 10 inch senior guard and forward, Smith led the Campbell County Camels to a 20-2 record and a berth in the Class 4A state tournament this year. Smith averaged 13 points, 3.1 rebounds and three steals per game while shooting 75 percent from the free throw line through 22 games. Beyond being Wyoming’s 2016-17 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year, Smith is a First Team All-State standout in basketball as well as track and field.

A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Smith has volunteered as an elementary school tutor and as a youth volleyball and basketball coach.

“Kalina Smith is a great competitor and is a special player, defensively,” said Curtis Martindale, head coach at Cheyenne Central High. “We literally could not get the ball inbounds when she was defending our player because she is so athletic, quick and has great timing.”

Smith maintained a 3.46 GPA in the classroom. She recently decided to next play Division I volleyball at Central Michigan University.

Smith also excelled at basketball and volleyball for two years at Powell High School before moving to Gillette. She is the daughter of Cindi Smith, formerly of Powell.

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, volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field. The selection process is administered by a committee that works with sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners.

Smith and Johnson will also be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant from the Gatorade Play It Forward program.

For more information, visit www.gatorade.com/poy.

1 comment

  • posted by Cody Johnson

    July 13, 2017 11:47 pm

    Thank you for the great article! We still miss Powell and treasure our time there. We learned so much about life and family and we are blessed to have lived in such a great place with such great people. You are definitely part of McCade's success!

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