For a complete list of Gatorade State Cross Country ROYs, click here.
THE WINNER: Gabrielle Jennings
School: First Baptist Christian School (Slidell, La.)
Position: Distance runner
Athletic achievement: She won her sixth consecutive Class C individual state championship this past season with a time of 18:54.11. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Jennings finished 43rd at the Nike Cross Nationals South Regional championships in 19:13.70. Her times of 17:22.57 and 18:42.09 at the Northshore Metro Championships and 15th Annual Jesse Owens Classic, respectively, ranked as Alabama’s fastest 3-mile and 5K performance of the season this past fall.
Academic excellence: Also an accomplished artist, dancer and swimmer, Jennings has maintained a 3.93 GPA and served as her school’s student council secretary.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a youth running instructor, she has volunteered on behalf of her church, the First Baptist Christian School, the National Beta Club and World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization.
“Gabrielle’s attitude, sportsmanship and coachable skills make it real easy for her coaches and teammates to get along with her,” said Miguel Becerra, head coach of rival Saint Thomas Aquinas (Hammond, La.). “She is very compassionate with the younger kids on her team. I have witnessed this first-hand at the meets that she is not competing at during the week, and she helps outs to make sure her younger teammates get to the starting line and cheers them on during the meet.”
THE FUTURE: Jennings will be a junior this fall.