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THE WINNER: Kate Mattox
School: Starkville (Miss.)
Athletic achievement: She won a second consecutive Class 6A individual state championship with a time of 18:18.40 this past season, leading the Yellow Jackets to second place as a team. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Mattox captured 30th place at the Foot Locker South Regional championships in 19:14.78. In addition to finishing unbeaten against Mississippi prep competitors this past fall, Mattox broke the tape at the Bulldog Invitational, where her clocking of 14:55.96 along with her first-place finish at the state meet, respectively, ranked as the state’s fastest 4K and 5K times of the season.
Academic excellence: Mattox has maintained a 3.92 GPA.
Exemplary character: A member of her school’s student government and Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, she has volunteered on behalf of her church’s youth group as well as at Camp Jigsaw, a summer retreat for children on the autism spectrum.
“While her practices have become even more grueling, she has still fought hard and works just as hard,” said Starkville head coach Caroline Woomer. “She would not settle for the times I gave her. She was running after the boys, and her goal was to stay with or beat them. We have some hard workers, so to say she’s one of the most hard-working members of our team is saying a lot.”
THE FUTURE: Mattox will be a junior this fall.