Mishawaka High (Mishawaka, Ind.) senior Anna Rohrer is the best flute soloist in the state, but her mastery of a wind instrument didn’t make the teen any less breathless when U.S. Olympian Molly Huddle crashed band rehearsal this morning. The music stopped just as Rohrer realized that Huddle was in town to hand her the 2014-15 Gatorade National Runner of the Year award.
“I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently,” said Rohrer, 17, who remains undecided on a collegiate destination. “Receiving this trophy kind of makes it more realistic that I might be competing for a spot in the Olympics someday. It’s incredibly exciting, and even more exciting to see what comes.”
The 5-foot-6 senior raced to her second career national title at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships this past season, breaking the tape in 17:13. After missing her junior season due to injury, Rohrer went undefeated in 2014, winning the individual state championship in a meet-record 17:08.8 and the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships in 16:57.
“She was still holding her flute when I showed up with the trophy, so I think she was pretty surprised,” said Huddle, 30, who broke her own American record in the outdoor 5,000 this past July and earned Gatorade New York Track & Field Athlete of the Year honors as a high school senior in 2002. “Seeing these kids early on is special. This is such a competitive process to win this award. You just know they’re extremely likely to become an incredible athlete.”
Rohrer has maintained a weighted 4.44 GPA in the classroom. A member of the South Bend/Mishawaka Youth Leadership Council as well as the City of Mishawaka Mayor’s Youth Council, she won a gold medal for her flute solo at the Indiana State School Music Association’s statewide Solo Contest. Also an active member of the St. Monica Church Antioch Youth Group as well as 4-H, Rohrer has served as editor of her school newspaper and as a peer mentor for drug-awareness outreach in association with DARE. She plays 1st chair flute and piccolo with four different band ensembles in association with Mishawaka High’s music program.
“Rohrer was able to regain her national-championship form of 2012 and even surpass it, which is astonishing,” said DyeStat.com Editor-in-Chief Doug Binder. “After winning the Foot Locker title as a sophomore, multiple injuries removed her from the cross country radar. Her response to that adversity and her tenacious desire to be great are the biggest reasons why she was able to come back so strong to win a second Foot Locker title.”
The state’s Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year as a sophomore, Rohrer battled bone breaks and related injury complications in her feet for three years, persisting into the start of the 2014 campaign. Bouncing back to become one of six two-time national champions in prep history, she also swept her Sectional, Regional and Semi-State championships, in addition to breaking the tape at the Mid-East Cross Country Championships. Earlier this month, she took silver as a member of the U.S. Junior Team at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge in Scotland. She also won the 5,000-meter national title at New Balance Nationals Outdoor last spring.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse. Rohrer is now a finalist for the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
Rohrer becomes the first prep athlete from her state to win national Gatorade honors in cross country. She is the 13th Indiana native to win national Gatorade honors in any sport, which ranks fifth in the country throughout the award’s 30-year history. She joins a distinguished list of national-winner alumni from the Hoosier State, including 2014 WNBA Most-Improved Player of the Year Skylar Diggins (Washington, South Bend), who won in 2009, Greg Oden (Lawrence North, Indianapolis), a two-time national basketball winner from 2004-06, and 2014 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Lauren Holiday (née Cheney) of Ben Davis (Indianapolis) in 2006.
California—with 62— has produced the most Gatorade national winners across the program’s 12 sports, followed by Texas (29), Florida (20), Illinois (15), Indiana and Virginia (11).