From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Junior, Pocatello (Idaho)
Greatness Present: The son of former Boise State University wrestling star Clayton Armstrong and brother of two-time state champion wrestler Shiloh Armstrong, Elijah was also Iowa’s best eighth-grade grappler when he decided to give up the sport and focus on running. It doesn’t appear he’s regretting that decision.
The 5-foot-5 junior captured his third consecutive Class 4A individual state championship with a time of 15:41 last month, breaking the tape nearly 40 seconds before his next-closest competitor.
He captured second place at the Nike Cross Nationals Northwest Regional championships in 15:24 and third at the Foot Locker West Regional championships in 15:41.2. The latter effort earned Armstrong a spot in the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego, where he placed sixth in 15:22 earlier this month.
Greatness Past: The state’s returning Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, Armstrong recorded Idaho’s fastest time at both the 2012 NXN (third, 15:37.2) and 2012 Foot Locker (11th place, 15:53) regional championships as a sophomore last season.
Also a track and field distance running standout, he won the 5,000-meter run at this past March’s New Balance Indoor Nationals in a sophomore meet-record time of 14:54.27, and then finished third in the same event at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in June.
Greatness Future: Armstrong will be a senior next year and remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year races aren’t over, and the National ROY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list.Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.