A three-sport standout and a world-record-setting swimmer are The Sun's High School Athletes of the Year.
Kelsey Twist, the Female Athlete of the Year for 2000-2001, earned All-Metro distinction in three sports and helped Roland Park Country School to Top 20 rankings in each. Michael Phelps' excellence spanned the globe, and the 15-year-old Olympian from Towson High continued to make history: As Male Athlete of the Year, he's the first sophomore to be honored in the awards program that began in 1967.
Phelps, Twist and 74 other athletes were recognized yesterday during a luncheon at the ESPN Zone at the Inner Harbor.
National coaches have said that Phelps is a talent who comes along once in a generation. He finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where he was the youngest member of a U.S. Olympic men's swim team since 1932. In March, he lowered the world record in that event to 1 minute, 54.92 seconds, and is believed to be the youngest male world-record holder ever.
The Athlete of the Year awards had been the domain of seniors until 1992, when Dulaney's Amanda White became the first junior to be honored. Gilman's Damien Davis became the second in 1998, but Phelps' precocious accomplishments made him the first 10th-grader recognized.
"This is pretty cool," said Phelps, who will celebrate his 16th birthday later this month. "Maybe this will give other sophomores, and even freshmen, something to shoot for."
In five weeks, Phelps will leave for Japan and this year's world championships. He qualified for that meet with his world-record swim in Austin, Texas, on March 30, and was asked if he is ready to lower that mark.
"I hope," Phelps said, "and I hope something special happens."
Baltimore County doesn't sponsor interscholastic swimming, and Phelps gained international acclaim under the banner of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. He made a huge splash in Australia, a year after Twist competed there as one of the youngest members of the U.S. under-19 lacrosse team that won a world championship.
Twist was an All-Metro selection in lacrosse last year, and her profile in that sport increased this spring. Her versatility also garnered first-team All-Metro honors in field hockey and second-team status in basketball. The vice president of Roland Park's senior class, she accepted a lacrosse scholarship to Stanford, which has an up-and-coming team that is expected to add to the nation's best women's athletic program.
"This is a great thrill," said Twist, who won 12 varsity letters at Roland Park. "There are a tremendous number of outstanding athletes here, and I'm excited."
Twist is well-versed with the history of The Sun award. She played Amateur Athletic Union basketball with Theresa Sherry, last year's winner from Bryn Mawr; Betsy Gaines, the 1999 winner, was a year-round teammate during Twist's first two years at Roland Park. One of the Reds' assistant basketball coaches is Rosemary Meyer, who as Mercy's Rosemary Kosiorek was named Athlete of the Year in 1988.
Sun staff writer Katherine Dunn contributed to this article.