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Girls' Cross Country Athlete of the Year
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Girls' Cross Country Athlete of the Year

 

2000

Victoria Chang
Punahou High School, Honolulu, Hawaii

Chang was the state cross country champion as a senior, then ascended to national recognition by winning the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships in December. Chang ran the 3.1-mile course in a record time of 3:05.8, 17 seconds faster than the previous record set by Erin Sullivan in 1997. Chang won the race by nine seconds. "Athletes like Victoria Chang are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "She has worked extremely hard to develop her skills and has become one of the best cross country runners not only in the state of Hawaii, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring her." Chang also was a four-time state champion in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs, leading Punahou High to the state track and field team title all four years. She set state records in both events as a junior in 1999, running the 1,500 in 4:38.83 and the 3,000 in 9:38.03. Chang accepted an athletic scholarship to Stanford University.

 

2001

Dathan Ritzenheim
Rockford High School, Rockford, Michigan

"Athletes like Dathan Ritzenheim are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "He has worked extremely hard to develop his skills and has become one of the best runners not only in the state of Michigan, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring him." A two-time Class A state champion, Ritzenheim, who will attend the University of Colorado, has not lost a race in the United States in his age group the past two years. He is a two-time champion in the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships. In the prestigious Penn Relays this spring, Ritzenheim finished second in the Olympic Development 5-kilometer race when he ran a time of 13:51.69, the second-fastest time ever by a high school athlete. The only prep athlete to better that time, Gerry Lindgren, ran the event in 13:44 in 1964. Ritzenheim won a bronze medal in the World Junior Championships in Belgium this spring.  

 

2002

Amber Trotter
Ukiah High School, Ukiah, Califorina

"Athletes like Amber Trotter are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "She has worked extremely hard to develop her skills and has become one of the best runners not only in the state of California, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring her." Trotter's story is among the most unusual and heart-warming of any honoree this year, both on and off the course. She overcame an eating disorder that plagued her much of her junior year to post one of the most dominating cross country seasons ever in California as a senior. She won the girls title in the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships last December by 40 seconds, the second largest margin of victory in race history, after finishing seventh as a junior. She won all eight races she competed in last fall, by an average of 1 minute, 6 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. Included were winning margins of 1:52 in the North Coast Section meet and 45 seconds in the California state meet. Instead of selecting one of the Division I powerhouses to pursue her college career, Trotter will travel all the way across the United States to attend Division III Middlebury College, located in scenic Middlebury, Vermont. 

 

2003

Amber Harper
Orem High School, Orem, Utah

"Amber Harper's consistency in winning three state titles demostrates for young athletes that winning never gets old, and that with a consistent work ethic an athlete can reach the top and remain there," said NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro. "The NHSCA is proud to honor Amber Harper as the Senior Girls Cross Country Athlete of the Year." Harper won her third Utah state individual cross country championship in the fall of 2002, and led Orem High to the team title in a close 48-51 race with Mountain View High. Upon winning both the individual title and the team title, Harper's selflessness and true leadership shined in her post-race comments that focused entirely upon the team effort. "This is the happiest day of my life as a runner," Harper said to the Deseret News. "We're a lot closer as a group this year, and I knew we could do it today." Harper ended her senior cross country season with a second straight qualifying berth and another top 15 finish at the prestigious Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships.

 

2004

Sunni Olding
Minster High School, Minster, Ohio

Olding, a 4.0-G.P.A. student who will compete for Notre Dame in the fall, is a three-time state champion. She is also a three-sport athlete who plays basketball, and is one of the top-ranked two-mile tracksters in the nation.

 

2005

Andrew Bumbalough
Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, Tennessee

Bumbalough set course records on virtually every course he ran on during his career. A three-time Division II state champion, he broke the state's 23-year-old course record as a senior, his time of 14:14 winning the race by more than a full minute. Bumbalough also won three state track titles - twice in the 3,200 and once in the 1,600. The 2004 Foot Locker National Championships runnerup, Bumbalough shattered by 11 seconds the course record held by a former NHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year - Alan Webb - in the South Regional, and his qualifying time of 14:32 was more than one minute faster than any other runner in the nation. He will attend Georgetown University.

 

2006

Aislinn Ryan
Warwick Valley High School, Warwick Valley, New York

Ryan's first state and Federation championships last fall - she was the 2004 runner-up - capped a career that has seen her win major races all over the nation. She was the Foot Locker Girls National champion in 2004 and was the top senior in 2005, finishing third overall. A two-time Foot Locker Northeast Region runner-up, she also has won the Great American Cross Country Festival and posted the fastest two-mile time (10:26.64) in the nation last year. Also an indoor track standout, she won the mile run at the Stanner Games, Boston Indoor Games and Millrose Games a year ago. Her time at the Millrose Games was the seventh-fastest in the history of the prestigious event. She will attend the University of Colorado.

 

2007

Marie Lawrence
Reno High School, Reno, Nevada

Lawrence finished fifth in the Foot Locker Girls National championship in 2006, and was the highest placing senior, after posting runnerup finishes as a freshman, sophomore and junior. She earned Athletes Only Athlete of the Week honors twice last fall. A three-time Class 4A state cross country champion, Lawrence led Reno to the state track and field title this spring by sweeping the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters for the third time, ending her career with 11 individual state championships, five relay titles and four state records. She finished 10th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the Under-20 World Championships and is the national high school record holder in the 2,000 and 3,000 meters. She will attend the University of Washington.

 

2008

Christine Babcock
Woodbridge High School, Irvine, California

Babcock finished her career as a two-time Division 2 state cross country champion, also winning the all-class state crown this fall. Her time of 17:04 beat the Division 2 field by 40 seconds and was the sixth fastest time in state history. She began the season three months earlier by running the fastest 3-mile time in the nation - 16:05 in the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, shattering her own personal record by more than 26 seconds. She was selected as Cross Country Athlete of the Year twice by the Orange County Register. The two-time defending track and field state champion in the 1,600 has been outstanding in all three distance races. In her only 800-meter race this season, she set both a school and meet record (2:10.15) at the Trabuco Hills Invitational, and also ran the nation's second-best 3,200 time of 10:04.03 - a race in which she was the runnerup by less than a second. Babcock will join last year's Senior Athlete of the Year, Marie Lawrence of Reno (Nev.) High, at the University of Washington next fall.

 

2009

Reed Connor
The Woodlands High School, The Woodlands, Texas

The 6-foot-1 Connor was named the Gatorade National Boys Runner of the Year after winning the Nike Cross Nationals Championship in 2008 in a course-record time of 15:13.6. He also set a course record in the Nike South Regional final. In the Class 5A state tournament, Connor's winning time of 14:47.19 was the second-fastest in the history of the Texas state meet. Connor slashed nearly two minutes off the time he ran in the state meet as a junior and won the race by 12 seconds. He also set course records in the Andy Wells Invitational and the Aldine Invitational, and became the third runner ever to break 15 minutes in the Chile Pepper Festival race in Arkansas. Also an outstanding student with a 3.7 grade-point average, he will attend the University of Wisconsin.

 

2010

Megan Goethals
Rochester High School, Rochester Hills, Michigan

The 5-foot-8 Goethals was named the Gatorade National Girls Runner of the Year this year after winning the Foot Locker National Championships in 17:06.9, winning in a photo finish, the closest in the meet’s 31-year history. She also won the Foot Locker Midwest Regional title. A two-time Division 1 cross country state champion, Goethals owns six course records in Michigan, and she won last fall in 16:54.8, shattering her own state meet course record by 16 seconds despite a stiff headwind. Goethals was named the Gatorade Michigan Player of the Year in two sports, cross country (twice) and track and field. In 2009, she won the 3,200 in a state-record time of 10:37.50, and the 4:51.20 she ran to win the 1,600 was the second-fastest time in state meet history. In March, Goethals won the 2-mile run at the Nike Indoor Nationals in 10:10.14, the No. 5 time all-time indoors. Also an outstanding student with a 3.66 grade-point average, she will attend the University of Washington.

 

2011

Aisling Cuffe
Cornwall Central High School, Cornwall, New York  

The 5-foot-4 Cuffe was named the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year after posting an unbeaten senior season and racing to the title at the Foot Locker Nationals in a time of 16:53. Her victory margin of 34 seconds was the third largest in the meet’s 32-year history. Cuffe captured her second Class A state title and also repeated as the all-class New York Federation champion. She set course records in both Federation victories, on two separate courses. She finished second in the Class A and Federation meets as a sophomore. This year, Cuffe also won the Great American Cross Country Festival, the Manhattan Invitational and the Foot Locker Northeast Regional. In January, she won the USA Track and Field Junior Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Calif. by 26 seconds. The event was a qualifier for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain in March. There, Cuffe finished 17th, leading the American contingent. At the Loucks Memorial Games this month, she ran the nation’s fastest times in the 1,600 (4:40.56) and the 3,200 (9:56.16). Ranked No. 2 in her class, Cuffe is a four-year member of the Cornwall Central Math Team and its high scorer. She will attend Stanford University.

 

2012

Molly Seidel
University Lake School,Hartland, Wisconsin

Last fall, the 5-foot-4 Seidel became just the second Wisconsin girl to become a four-time state champion, joining three-time Olympian Suzy Favor-Hamilton of Stevens Point High (1982-85). Seidel won the Division 3 title in 13:39.59, breaking the all class state record she set last year by five seconds. This spring,she also could become a four-time track and field state champion in the 1,600 and the 3,200. Last spring, her winning times in the 1,600 (4:51.54) and the 3,200 (10:33.15) were Division 3state records. By slashing eight and 22 seconds off those times,respectively, she could claim the all-class record in each event.She won the Foot Locker Midwest Regional (17:08) and the Foot Locker Nationals (17:22) and was named the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year and the National Girls Senior Athlete of the Year by xcnation.com. Last year, Seidel also established the national record for 4,000 meters when she won the Lancer Invitational in 13:10.08. Also an outstanding student, Seidel ranks No. 1 in her class with a 4.0 grade-point average,was a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist and scored 34 on the ACT, including a perfect 36 on the English portion. She will attend the University of Notre Dame.

 

2013

Catarina Rocha
Peabody High School, Peabody, Massachusetts  

Catarina Rocha, Massachusetts’ two-time state champ, made her mark on the national scene during her cross-country career. Rocha finished second at the 2012 Foot Locker National Championships last December, which was an improvement over 7th place finish as a junior and 31st place finish as a sophomore. Rocha will attend Providence College in the fall and will compete in cross country, plus indoor and outdoor track.

 

2014

Tessa Barrett
Abington Heights High School, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Tessa Barrett of Abington Heights closed out her senior season by capturing both the Footlocker Girls’ National Championship and the Pennsylvania Class AAA state title while going undefeated during the 2013 season. Barrett accomplished all of the above while suffering from a rare neurological disorder known as migralepsy, which can cause severe migraine headaches followed by epileptic seizure. A number of factors can trigger migralepsy, but the primary provocation is prolonged exposure to the flickering of fluorescent lights. Because Barrett cannot spend her days inside a school building with those lights—incandescent, natural lighting is fine—she takes an online cyber program at home through the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter program. With honors and A.P. classes, Barrett has achieved a 4.0 GPA. Barrett will attend Penn State in the fall. She is the first girls’ cross country runner from Pennsylvania honored by the NHSCA.

 

2015

Anna Rohrer
Mishawaka High School, Mishawaka, Indiana

Anna Rohrer became only the fifth runner in the 36-year history of the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships to win two titles during her career.  Her first Foot Locker title came when she was a sophomore. Rohrer, who will attend Notre Dame, also has two New Balance national titles. She also won four Indiana high school titles, and holds state meet records in both cross country and track.

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