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: Mattie Shirley-Fairbairn
School: Bismarck (N.D.)
Position: Distance Runner
Athletic achievement: The distance runner won the Class A individual state championship with a time of 13:47.30 this past season, leading the Demons to the team title. Shirley-Fairbairn took seventh at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships in 17:30. Unbeaten against in-state competition in 2015, her winning times at the Becki Wells Invitational (13:44.84) and the NXN Heartland Regional, respectively, ranked as the fastest 4K and 5K times in North Dakota prep history. She placed second at the 2014 Class A state meet as an eighth-grader.
Academic excellence: Shirley-Fairbairn has maintained a 4.00 GPA.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a youth running instructor, she has volunteered locally at nursing homes and as part of food drives.
“I admire the hard work, talent and character she displays as a young runner,” said Carla Wahlund, head coach at rival Minot High. “She is blessed to win her races in North Dakota quite easily and handles the spotlight well. Many of my athletes enjoy watching her run, as she makes it look so easy to them. When a young athlete shines as she does, it isn’t easy for them to handle that kind of pressure. She seems to do it well.”
THE FUTURE: Shirley-Fairbairn will begin her sophomore year of high school this fall.