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: Christina Daniels
School: Tupelo (Miss.)
Athletic achievement: Daniels raced to the Class 6A individual state championship this past season with a time of 15:08.5, leading the Golden Wave to the state title as a team. She placed third at the Foot Locker South Regional freshmen championships in 19:11. Daniels captured second place at the 2010 Class 6A state meet as an eighth-grader and finished 11th in 2009 as a seventh-grader.
Academic excellence: Also an accomplished singer, Daniels has maintained a 4.00 GPA in the classroom in addition to attending a prestigious math and leadership camp at the Mississippi School of Math and Science.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally as a peer tutor, at an animal shelter, as part of holiday concerts for senior citizens and on behalf of her church’s youth group.
“Christina is very steady and consistent, both in her races and training,” said Tupelo head coach Anna Sloan. “She leads by example and exhibits a humble team-first attitude. She is on the front lines cheering for and encouraging younger runners, and eager to welcome new team members. She exhibits the highest level of sportsmanship, offering congratulations and establishing friendships, even with competitive rivals. She is extremely coachable. Christina has improved steadily throughout her running career and continually strives to get better.”
THE FUTURE: Daniels will begin her sophomore year of high school this fall.