Class of 2004: Athletes of the Year
Palestine High (Texas)
It's always hard to pick the nation's top football player because there are so many different directions you can go. We could honor Kentucky's Brian Brohm as the best quarterback, New Jersey's Brian Toal as the best two-way player or Maryland's Derrick Harvey for his mind-boggling 35 sacks. But in the end, we've settled on Peterson, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound workhorse who was the country's best prep running back last fall. Peterson, who will play for the University of Oklahoma in the fall, rushed for 2,079 yards and 29 touchdowns on 222 carries as a senior for an amazing 9.4 yards per carry.
Lincoln High (N.Y.)
Southwest Atlanta Christian (Ga.) center Dwight Howard may be considered a better NBA prospect, but Telfair gets our nod as the nation's best pure high school player this year. Not only did the 6-foot, 180-pound point guard put up sick stats during his senior season — averaging 31 points, eight assists and four rebounds per game — but he also led Lincoln to its third consecutive city championship and became the all-time leading scorer in New York state history, surpassing Kenny Anderson's record of 2,621 career points. Telfair opted to pass on a scholarship to Louisville to enter this summer's NBA Draft.
Naperville Central High (Ill.)
Parker is the only repeat winner on this list, having earned Athlete of the Year honors last year as well. But she deserves the accolades. The 6-foot-3 forward, who gained national notoriety in March when she won the slam dunk contest at the McDonald's All-American Game, proved she can do more than just dunk by averaging 24.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.3 steals per game this season while leading Naperville Central to its second straight state title despite suffering a torn ACL last summer. Parker will play her college ball at the University of Tennessee beginning next season.
Mission Bay High (Calif.)
Bush, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior shortstop/pitcher, avoids the age-old debate about whether pitchers or position players are more valuable. The nation's top two-way player and a big-time major league prospect, Bush can dominate all facets of a baseball game. He hit .423 with 33 runs, 32 RBI and eight homers at the plate and went 7-1 with a 0.48 ERA on the mound during the regular season this spring, leading Mission Bay to the top seed in the San Diego Section Division III playoffs. Special mention also goes out to Redan High (Ga.) shortstop Chris Nelson, who hit .584 with 44 RBI after undergoing Tommy John surgery last fall.
Coral Springs High (Fla.)
Dix didn't even begin the year as the most hyped sprinter in the state of Florida — that honor belonged to Palm Bay High's Xavier Carter — but he concluded his senior season with a record-breaking performance at the Florida Class 4A state meet, defending his state titles in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. At the state championships, Dix broke Carter's year-old state record in the 200 with a time of 20.62 seconds and tied the state mark in the 100 with a 10.38. At press time, Dix's best performances in both events ranked as the nation's top times this spring.
Long Beach Poly (Calif.)
Although Solomon was upset in the 100- and 200-meter finals at the California state meet, she did enough throughout the rest of the indoor and outdoor track seasons to prove herself as the nation's top girls' track performer. The senior sprinter won the 100 with a time of 11.50 seconds at April's Arcadia Invitational, took first in the 200 with a national-best time of 23.44 at March's National Scholastic Indoor Championships and ran on multiple record-breaking relay teams for Long Beach Poly. In addition, Solomon finished fourth in the 200 with a time of 23.77 at February's USA Track & Field Indoor Championships.