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: Grace Tinkey
School: First Presbyterian Day School (Macon, Ga.)
Athletic achievement: Tinkey raced to a second consecutive Class A individual state championship this past season with a time of 17:59.27, leading the Vikings to third place as a team. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Tinkey placed third at the Foot Locker South Regional championships in 17:08 in addition to finishing sixth at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 17:37. Also the four-time All-Middle Georgia Runner of the Year as named by The Macon Telegraph, she won the 2008 and 2009 Georgia Independent Schools Association Class AAA individual state championship as a freshman and eighth-grader.
Academic excellence: Also a track standout, Tinkey has maintained an A average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a youth athletic instructor, she has volunteered locally at a food bank, as part of a youth ministry and on behalf of an animal shelter as well as with the Ronald McDonald House Charities and Lighthouse Family Retreat for children with cancer.
“Tinkey had to overcome a midseason injury that threatened her chances to progress among the nation’s elite,” said Steve Underwood, ESPNHS DyeStat Senior Editor. “But she rebounded to dominate her state meet, qualify easily for Foot Locker nationals and then finish sixth in the nation in San Diego -- her best finish in three Foot Locker finals, setting her up to join the select group of four-time qualifiers in 2012.”
THE FUTURE: Tinkey will begin her senior year of high school this fall.