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: Taylor Werner
School: Ste. Genevieve (Mo.)
Position: Distance Runner
Athletic achievement: A three-time Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Werner captured a fourth consecutive Class 3 individual state championship with a course-record time of 17:14.22 this past season, leading the Dragons to the team title. Also the 2013-14 Gatorade Missouri Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, the distance runner won the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships in 16:57.30, and then took fifth at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 17:29.80. Unbeaten against Missouri competition in 2015, her performance at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional ranked as the state’s fastest 5K among prep competitors this past fall.
Academic excellence: Werner has maintained an A average and served as a member of her school’s student council and spirit club as well as the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as an altar server at her church, she has volunteered locally on behalf of Trick or Treat for Canned Goods, the American Red Cross, the Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation and as part of a holiday gift-giving campaign in association with a senior citizen Christmas dinner.
“You know of her athletic ability, but she is also a great example of sportsmanship as witnessed by our team at the state cross country championships, where she led her first-place team to take a picture with our second-place team all together,” said Jim Lohr, head coach at rival Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School. “There are few sports where this is fine, and she made it happen. And she is respected here in Missouri by both runners and coaches for her ability as well as her faith and character. She has been great to watch over the last four years.”
THE FUTURE: Werner has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on an athletic scholarship at the University of Arkansas beginning this fall.