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: Olivia Ortiz
School: Lakewood Ranch (Fla.)
Athletic achievement: Ortiz raced to the Class 3A individual state championship this past season with a time of 17:39.35, leading the Mustangs to third place as a team. Ortiz also won the Little Everglades Pre-State Invitational, the flrunners.com Invitational, the Disney Cross Country Classic, the District 11 Championships and the Region 3 Championships. She captured fifth at the Foot Locker South Regional championships and was 19th nationally at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
Academic excellence: Ortiz has maintained a 3.63 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A member of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, she has volunteered on behalf of blood-donation drives and has raised funds for pediatric brain cancer research.
“Olivia is a true champion on and off the field,” said Lakewood Ranch track & field coach Mark Napier. “Her strong leadership, humble demeanor and athletic drive place her in a class of her own.”
THE FUTURE: Ortiz will begin her senior year of high school this fall.