For a list of the other Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Bakri Abushouk
School: Cary (N.C.)
Athletic achievement: He raced to the Class 4A individual state championship this past season with a time of 15:31.92, leading the Imps to second place as a team. Abushouk also placed 11th at the Foot Locker South Regional championships in 15:07. During the regular season, Abushouk won five meets by an average of 29.1 seconds, including the Wendy’s Invitational, and captured the state’s fastest time at the prestigious Great American Cross Country Festival. He finished fifth at the 2011 Class 4A state meet as a junior.
Academic excellence: Also a track standout, Abushouk has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to working a part-time job, he has volunteered on behalf of the Special Olympics’ Project UNIFY program to foster respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities in his school community.
“His discipline and dedication are unmatched,” said Cary head coach Jerry Dotson. “He is Muslim, so every year during the cross country season he observed Ramadan with his family. He could not eat or drink during the day. He would get up at 3 a.m. and train, normally running between 10-12 miles. He usually lost around 10 pounds during this time. He is a good friend to his fellow teammates and to runners from other teams. Everybody knows and admires Bakri. Even with all of his success, he has remained very humble. Bakri is the epitome of a student-athlete.”
THE FUTURE: Abushouk has verbally committed to an athletic scholarship at North Carolina State University beginning this fall.