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: McKenzie Yanek
School: Pleasant Valley (Bettendorf, Iowa)
Position: Distance Runner
Athletic achievement: The distance runner won the Class 4A state meet this past season with a record time of 17:55.0, breaking the tape 26.7 seconds ahead of her next-closest competitor and leading the Spartans to a second-place finish as a team. Yanek placed 18th at both the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships and the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships. Also the 2013 4A state meet champion, she missed the 2014 state meet with an illness.
Academic excellence: Yanek has maintained a weighted 4.13 GPA.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered locally with Toys for Tots and on behalf of the Quad Cities Marathon. She has also donated her time as a youth track coach.
“McKenzie Yanek is an incredibly hard worker and a true teammate in every sense of the word,” said Erin Flynn, head coach of Bettendorf High. “What makes McKenzie such a good runner is her openness to coaching, her persistence and dedication to her sport, and the passion to always be the best she can be.”
THE FUTURE: Yanek has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on an athletic scholarship at the University of Alabama beginning this fall.