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: Gabrielle Jennings
School: First Baptist Christian School (Slidell, La.)
Position: Distance Runner
Athletic achievement: The state’s three-time returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Jennings captured a state-record eighth consecutive Class C state championship with a time of 18:27.70 this past season. Also the three-time Times-Picayune All-New Orleans Runner of the Year, the distance runner won the title at the Amateur Athletic Union National Cross Country Championship in the 17-18 age division with a time of 18:12.8, recording the fastest 5K among Louisiana prep competitors in 2015.
Academic excellence: Also a gymnastics, swimming and soccer standout, Jennings has maintained a 3.54 GPA and served in her school’s student government.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a youth running instructor, she has volunteered on behalf of her church, the First Baptist Christian School, the National Beta Club and World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization.
“I personally have a sixth-grade daughter that competes in cross country, and she looks up to Jennings—and they all want to be like her, including getting good grades, high ACT scores, being the best Louisiana cross country runner and going on to a Division I school to compete,” said Miguel Becerra, head coach at rival St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Catholic High. “I also love the way she presents herself to her competition, always positive and encouraging her competitors, even after she finishes the race 1-2 minutes ahead of them.”
THE FUTURE: Jennings has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on an athletic scholarship at South Carolina’s Furman University beginning this fall.