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: Samantha Nightingale
School: Blue Springs South (Blue Springs, Mo.)
Athletic achievement: Nightingale raced to a second consecutive Class 4 individual state championship this past season with a time of 18:05.51. Also the All-Metro Runner of the Year as named by the Kansas City Star, she placed second at the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional championships in 18:09.90 in addition to finishing eighth at the Nike Cross Nationals Final in 17:59. Nightingale finished fourth at the 2008 and 2009 Class 4 state meets as a freshman and sophomore.
Academic excellence: Nightingale has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics and as an elementary school tutor in addition to promoting healthy lifestyle choices in association with Girls on the Run and the Blue Springs Schools backpack snack program.
“Samantha completed one of the most decorated careers in Missouri state history this season,” said Blue Springs South head coach Ryan Unruh. “She has been a model of consistency and excellence on and off the cross country course throughout her career. After two fourth-place finishes at state as a freshman and sophomore, she made herself into a dominant runner during her junior and senior years. She can easily be considered one of the greatest cross country runners the state of Missouri has ever produced.”
THE FUTURE: Nightingale remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.