Austin Hindman is in Des Moines, Iowa, training for two big upcoming triathlons when he got an important text message.
Lafayette coach Matt Warren let him the Gatorade Company has named him as its 2016-17 Gatorade Missouri Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
The 6-foot-3, 160-pound Hindman is the first Gatorade Missouri Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Lafayette.
“It’s great,” Hindman said on June 30 in a break from working out in Iowa. “It’s an awesome honor to receive. They only honor one guy in each state and for me to bee selected is really awesome. I’m definitely honored. I’m super happy to get it.”
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track, distinguishes Hindman as Missouri’s best high school boys track & field athlete.
Hindman joins an elite alumni association of state track & field award-winners, including Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt High School, Iowa), Allyson Felix (2002-03, Los Angeles Baptist High School, Calif.), Robert Griffin III (2006-07, Copperas Cove High School, Texas), Grant Fisher (2013-14 & 2014-15, Grand Blanc High School, Mich.) and Candace Hill (2014-15, Rockdale County High School, Ga.).
Being named a Gatorade state winner is almost old hat to Hindman.
He won the Gatorade Missouri Boys Cross Country honor last fall.
“I’m really fortunate I was able to put together two solid seasons in cross country and track,” Hindman said. “I was able to get a cross country state title and some state track title. I got good results. Staying healthy is the most important thing and I was able to do that.
“To be honored by Gatorade in both sports is awesome.”
Hindman won the MSHSAA Class 4 state meet in November, breaking the tape in a course-record 15 minutes, 22.30 seconds to finish 16.54 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor and leading the Lancers to a third-place finish as a team.
Hindman followed up with a personal-best 15:04.40 to earn sixth at the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional championships before racing in the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships, where he crossed the line in 27th.
In track he was just as impressive.
Hindman captured three individual titles and shared in another at the Class 5 state meet this spring, leading the Lancers to a second-place finish as a team.
Hindman won the 800-meter run with a time of 1:55, the 1600 in 4:09.69 and broke the tape in the 3200 in 8:54.92 before anchoring the winning 4×800 relay quartet, which clocked a 7:59.30.
He also took second place in the 3200 at the Arcadia Invitational with a time of 8:43.40—the fastest time in history by a Missouri runner and the nations No. 2 performance among prep competitors in 2017 at the time of his selection.
Hindman has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boys Scouts of America where he has volunteered locally on behalf of multiple community service initiatives.
“Austin Hindman is an impressive and rare talent,” said Warren. “His competitive drive, focus and spirit are unparalleled. But what makes him so special is the type of fantastic person he is. He is his humble, gracious and kind and never boastful. He is a great teammate who puts others ahead of himself.”
Hindman has maintained a B average in the classroom.
He will compete in track and cross country at the University of Missouri beginning this fall.
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, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.
The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Hindman joins recent Gatorade Missouri Boys Track & Field Athletes of the Year Chris Nilsen (2015-16, Park Hill High School), Carlos Davis (2014-15, Blue Springs High School), C.J. Jones (2013-14, Cardinal Ritter College Prep.), Ezekiel Elliott (2012-13, John Burroughs High School), Dapo Akinmoladun (2011-12, Grandview High School), Daniel Everett (2010–11, Westminster Christian Academy), Dorial Green (2009-10, Hillcrest High School), Nick Happe (2008–09, Francis Howell North High School), Maurice Mitchell (2007-08, Raytown South High School), and Andy Oaker (2006-07, Steelville High School) among the state’s list of former award winners.
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Austin will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program.
Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate.
“I donated my $1,000 from cross country to an organization in St. Louis called DASA (Disabled Athlete Sports Association). They help people with disabilities or who had physical injuries to help them to take part in sports again. It’s a great organization.
“I’m going to donate the track money to them as well. It’s an organization I really believe in. It’s so cool to be able to do that. The sports of track and cross country have given me a lot over the last four years and to be able to give back and give to a good charity is really awesome.”
Hindman is busy working in Iowa with select athletes to get ready for two big events in July.
“I’ll be heading to (Hamburg) Germany in two weeks (July 15) for a World Triathlon Series race and the week after (July 22) I’ll be in a World Cup race in (Tiszaujvaros) Hungary. So it’s going to be a busy month for me.”
Plus, he’ll see two new countries.
“I’ve competed in Europe before,” Hindman said. “I’ve been in France and the Netherlands. So now I’ll get to see two more countries and it should be fun. It’s definitely going to be a busy summer. So far, I’ve been training hard and getting in the workouts. Now, I’ll be going overseas.”