Return of the ROY: Arkansas' Valerie Reina

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: Valerie Reina

Position: Distance runner

Grade: Senior

School: Har-Ber (Springdale, Ark.)

College: Undecided

Height: 5-foot-2

Notes: 2010-11 Gatorade Arkansas Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year 2010 Class 7A state meet individual champion ... 2010 Foot Locker South Regional 11th-place finisher ... 2008-10 First Team All-State selection


Academics: 3.51 GPA

Extracurricular activities: track standout ... National Honor Society ... volunteered as part of multiple community-outreach initiatives on behalf of her church's youth group

Randall Ramaker, head coach of rival Bentonville High: "Valerie Reina is a great young lady, and she is obviously very talented in cross country and track. If I were going to choose one runner who really stood out above the rest, she would absolutely be the one."

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

Maggie Montoya JR Rogers; Samantha Mohler SR Mountain Home; Kelsie Harris JR Mountain Home; Randi Ferguson JR Little Rock Christian; Natalie Meinzer SR Batesville; Amber Culwell JR Rose Bud; Anna Wilbourn SR Episcopal Collegiate; Logan Lyle SO Magazine

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.