The Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Runners of the Year were selected based on athletic production and impact in the 2015-16 season. Each winner also demonstrated high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership.
For the complete list of Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Sarah Leinheiser
School: Carmel (Ind.)
Position: Distance Runner
Athletic achievement: The distance runner raced to the individual state championship this past season with a time of 17:30.8, leading the Greyhounds to the state title as a team. Leinheiser finished seventh nationally at the Nike Cross Nationals Final in 17:20.2 and took eighth at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships with a time of 17:41.7.
Academic excellence: Leinheiser has maintained a 3.82 GPA.
Exemplary character: devoted member of her church community, she has volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics, youth running programs and a Vacation Bible School.
“Faced with some disappointment in her previous track season, Sarah rededicated her efforts to reach her highest potential in running this past summer,” said Carmel coach Mark Ellington. “She made changes to her diet and added strength and cross training regimens to her daily workout. That helped catapult her to a very successful cross country season.”
THE FUTURE: Leinheiser will begin her senior year of high school this fall.