A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Boys 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.
For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Cole Stafford
School: Catholic (Baton Rouge, La.)
Athletic achievement: Stafford raced to the Class 5A individual state championship this past season with a time of 15:22.75, leading the Bears to first place as a team. A two-time All-State selection as named by the Louisiana Track & Field Coaches Association, he also won the St. Michael’s Bayou Boogie, Episcopal Round Table Invitational, Walker Shootout and Baton Rouge Metro Invitational. He finished as the runner-up at the 2010 Class 5A state meet as a junior and placed fifth in 2009 as a sophomore.
Academic excellence: Also a track standout, Stafford has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a youth running instructor, he has volunteered on behalf of Habitat for Humanity and as part of a service-mission trip to Labadieville.
“Cole is a fierce, fierce competitor,” said Catholic head coach Pete Boudreaux. “He loves to compete and loves to run fast in all of his races. Needless to say, he has an incredible work ethic.”
THE FUTURE: Stafford remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.