Return of the ROY: Ala.'s Brandon Hazouri

The 2011-12 Gatorade State Cross Country Runners of the Year selection process is underway, and what better way to kick off coverage than with profiles of returning underclassmen winners? Repeating is no guarantee, but here's a snapshot of what this year’s challengers can shoot for …

Name: Brandon Hazouri

Position: Distance runner

Grade: Senior

School: Spain Park (Ala.)

College: Undecided

Height: 6-foot

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Alabama Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year ... 2010 ESPNHS DyeStat XC Top 25 series Honorable Mention selection ... 2010 Class 6A state meet individual champion ... 2010 Foot Locker South Regional 73rd-place finisher ... 2010 Class 6A All-State qualifier ... 2009 Class 6A state meet 17th-place finisher


Academics: B average

Extracurricular activities: community-service initiatives on behalf of his church ... Ronald McDonald House charities volunteer ... youth basketball instructor and referee ... serving food to the homeless ... member of his school’s chess club ... Fellowship of Christian Athletes ... sponsored a child through Compassion International

Spain Park head coach Michael Zelwak: “Brandon is extremely humble and gracious. He enjoyed being the underdog competitor early this season, because there wasn't a lot of attention on him. As he became more and more successful, he seemed to become more and more humble. His work ethic is unparalleled, and his commitment to learn what it takes to become a better distance runner has really helped establish him as a quality runner this season."

Each Gatorade State Runner of the Year is challenged by thousands of fellow high school athletes. These are a few of the returning boys cross country underclassmen that also contended in 2010-11 …

Steven Crain SR Spain Park; Austen Shipley SR Bob Jones

A dedicated POY team at ESPNHS manages the Gatorade Player of the Year program selection process and oversees all research, reporting, comparative analysis and criteria-compliance on the award program’s behalf. Candidates are judged upon athletic production and impact in the current season. Contenders must also demonstrate high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership. Any class year is eligible, senior status has no bearing on a candidate’s merit and selections are made independent of recruit rankings.

To nominate a student-athlete for Player of the Year honors, contact the POY team at ESPNHS_GPOY@ESPN.com.