Kansas Boys Cross Country ROY: Belesti Akalu

Kansas Boys Cross Country ROY: Belesti Akalu

Gatorade State Player of the Year

Kansas Boys Cross Country ROY: Belesti Akalu


The Gatorade State Boys 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 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.

THE WINNER: Belesti Akalu


School: Shawnee Mission North (Overland Park, Kan.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Distance Runner
Height: 5-foot-7
Weight: 110 pounds

Athletic achievement: The distance runner raced to the Class 6A individual state championship with a time of 15:43.40 this past season, leading the Indians to fifth place as a team. The All-Metro Cross Country Runner of the Year as named by the Kansas City Star, Akalu finished 21st at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships in 15:45.60. His winning time of 15:19 at the Class 6A regional championships in Lawrence was the state’s fastest 5K among prep competitors in 2015.

Academic excellence: Akalu has maintained a 3.34 weighted GPA.

Exemplary character: In addition to serving as a tutor for his younger siblings and working a part-time job, he has volunteered at the Kidane Mihret Ethiopian Orthodox Church.


“Belesti was hands down the most dominant runner I saw from Kansas this year, and it’s amazing to see what he accomplished having never run cross country before this year,” said Jeff Onnen, head coach at rival Shawnee Mission West High. “I think that speaks not just to his talent, but also to his level of dedication and commitment.”

THE FUTURE: Akalu will attend Iowa Central Community College in the fall, where he will run cross country.


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