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THE WINNER: Taylor Werner
School: Sainte Genevieve (Mo.)
Position: Distance runner
Athletic achievement: She captured fifth place at the Nike Cross Nationals Final with a time of 17:34 and 10th place at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 17:44 this past season. The latter performance earned her All-American honors. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Werner won the NXN Midwest Regional championships in 18:36.20 and placed fourth at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships in 17:46. Also the two-time Runner of the Year as named by MoMileSplit.com and the Missouri Track & Cross Country Coaches Association, she won a second consecutive Class 3 individual state title with a meet-record time of 17:31.30. Werner was the only prep girl in the country to finish in the top 10 of both national championship races.
Academic excellence: Werner has maintained a 3.95 GPA.
Exemplary character: A member of her school’s student council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and President of Sainte Genevieve’s National Junior Honor Society chapter, she has volunteered on behalf of a canned food drive, the American Red Cross and her church community. Werner has donated her time to the Adopt-A-Highway and Adopt-A-Family programs in addition to assisting at an annual Christmas dinner for senior citizens.
“Unfortunately, from my perspective, Taylor Werner has been very effective,” said John Crites, head coach of rival Festus (Mo.). “They’re our No. 1 rivalry. It’s a friendly rivalry, but every time she does well, our girls don’t win. It’s pretty impressive what she’s done. She’s never been beaten by another girl in Missouri cross country. She does it the right way and knows all the idiosyncrasies that go along with being a student of the sport. She’s just impressive.”
THE FUTURE: Werner will be a junior this fall.