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: Ahmed Bile
School: Annandale (Va.)
Position: Distance runner
Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Virginia Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. 2010 ESPNHS DyeStat Cross Country Top 25 series Honorable Mention selection. 2010 Runner of the Year as named by MileStat.com. 2010 First Team All-Met selection as named by The Washington Post. 2010 Group AAA state meet individual champion. 2010 Foot Locker South Regional fourth-place finisher. 2010 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships 14th-place finisher.
Academics: 3.15 GPA
Extracurricular activities: Track standout. Served as secretary of his school's Young Democrats of America chapter. Volunteered locally at annual election polling venues. Donated time to the Annandale parade. Youth soccer coach.
Annandale High head coach David O'Hara: “What distinguishes Ahmed is his ability to deal with adversity. Kids come back from injury all the time, but I have never heard of a runner at the elite high school level who have missed five weeks of training and still come back to earn All-American honors. Whether it's being injured for most of the season and coming back to be the most decorated cross country runner in Annandale's 57-year history, getting knocked down in a race and coming back to win, or being down by an insurmountable gap with a state title on the line, Ahmed's dogged determination and never-say-die attitude is what sets him apart."
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.
Thomas Madden: Junior distance runner, Skyline (Front Royal, Va.)
Cody Seymour: Senior distance runner, Cave Springs (Roanoke, Va.)
Sean McGorty Junior distance runner, Chantilly (Va.)
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.