The Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athletes 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 Track & Field Athlete of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: K. J. Cotton
School: Papillion-La Vista (Papillion, Neb.)
Weight: 170 pounds
Athletic achievement: The sprinter captured a pair of individual championships this spring and led the Monarchs to a second-place finish as a team at the Class A state meet. Cotton won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.55 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 21.55, capturing all-class gold with the fastest times in all competitive classifications for the second straight year. Now a two-time Gatorade Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Cotton’s winning times in the 100 and the 200 at the state meet were the fifth and seventh-fastest marks, respectively, in Nebraska prep history.
Academic excellence: Cotton has maintained a 3.94 GPA.
Exemplary character: He has volunteered on behalf of an area food pantry and an annual school carnival fundraiser in addition to donating his time as both a youth football and track & field coach.
“K.J. Cotton is an extremely talented athlete,” said Brent Litz, head coach at Bellevue West High. “Going into a track meet, it felt you were competing for second because you knew he was at another level. The interactions I had with him as an opposing coach were always very positive.”
THE FUTURE: Cotton will begin his senior year of high school this fall.