Return of the ROY: N.D.'s Jake Leingang

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: Jake Leingang

Position: Distance runner

Grade: Junior

School: Bismarck (N.D.)

College: Undecided

Height: 5-foot-6

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade North Dakota Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year ... 2010 ESPN RISE/DyeStat Cross Country Top 25 series Honorable Mention selection ... two-time All-State qualifier ... 2010 Class A state meet individual champion ... 2010 Class A state meet team champion ... 2010 Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional fourth-place finisher ... 2010 Nike Cross Nationals Final 64th-place finisher ... 2009 Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional 21st-place finisher ... 2009 Class A state meet fourth-place finisher


Academics: 3.71 GPA

Extracurricular activities: track standout ... active member of his church’s youth group ... volunteered locally at a soup kitchen and retirement home ... donated his time as a youth running instructor

Bismarck High head coach Darrell Anderson: “Jake is a passionate competitor. He's successful because he doesn't just play the game, he lives the game he loves to play -- in this case training and racing.”

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 …

Ken Wells SR Parshall; Austin Todd SR Bismarck; Brennan Goldade SO Williston; Chris Chamberlain JR Williston; Tom Fisher SR Grand Forks Central; Branden Scheel SO Fargo Davies

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.