Zaya Akins is a rare Gatorade award winner in Missouri.
The Raytown South graduate was named the 2022-23 Gatorade Missouri Girls Track and Field Player of the Year -- repeating an honor she won last year as well.
In fact, she is the first to win the award in back-to-back years in more than a decade: the last female track and field winner to do that was Alishea Usery from McCluer-South Berkeley, who won it in 2007 and then 2008.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, according to a press release.
She is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Player of the Year award to be announced in July.
She won the MSHSAA Class 5 state titles in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events this past season, concluding her prep career as the fastest competitor in Missouri history in each event, including an NWI mark of 11.36 in the 100 and a 52.83 effort in the 400 in 2023. That comes after moving up to the state's largest classification this spring after dominating in Class 4 last year.