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THE WINNER: Sam Nishi
School: Harwood Union (Moretown, Vt.)
Weight: 125 pounds
Athletic achievement: He raced to his second consecutive Division 2 individual state championship this past season with a time of 16:58.3, leading the Highlanders to the state title as a team. The state’s returning Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, Nishi also won the NVAC Mountain championships, the Essex Invitational, the U-32 Invitational and the Maine Festival of Champions. He was the top Vermont finisher at the New England Cross Country Championships, 11th overall, and finished 33rd at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships.
Academic excellence: Nishi has maintained a 4.15 GPA.
Exemplary character: He has volunteered locally on behalf of blood-donation drives and youth running programs.
“Sam was a measuring stick all season, for runners, parents and coaches from all over the state and New England,” said Harwood coach John Kerrigan. “He’s made me want to work harder as a coach, and his leadership has had a huge impact on the performance of our team. We lost 27 seniors from the boys and girls teams of 2013, but with close to 80 percent of the team made up of freshmen and sophomores, we were able to repeat as state champions.”
THE FUTURE: Nishi remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.