A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
THE WINNER: Sarah Baxter
School: Simi Valley (Calif.)
Athletic achievement: Baxter raced to the Nike Cross Nationals championship this past season with a time of 17:38. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Baxter was unbeaten on the season and captured the Division 2 state championship in 17:08. She also won titles at the Mt. SAC Invitational, the Ventura County Championships, the Marmonte League Championships and the Southern Section Championships.
Academic excellence: Baxter has maintained a 3.30 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally at a charity thrift store and on behalf of the Junior American Legion Auxiliary.
“At Nike Cross Nationals, Sarah Baxter beat the best female field we’ve seen since the turn of the century,” said ESPNHS/Dyestat Editor Rich Gonzalez. “She’s taken down multiple course records previously set by Jordan Hasay on benchmark courses. As a sophomore she’s still unbeaten in two years of high school running. I honestly felt she was tremendous last year, but this year she went out and proved her worth again.”
THE FUTURE: Baxter will begin her junior year of high school this fall.