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: Weini Kelati
School: Heritage (Leesburg, Va.)
Position: Distance Runner
Athletic achievement: The distance runner won the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships national title with a time of 17:09.7, despite running with a leg injury. Kelati also won the Group 4A state title in 17:22, leading the Lions to the state championship as a team. She was undefeated in 2015, setting course records in four of her eight races, including at the Third Battle Invitational, where her time of 16:29 was the fastest 5K ever recorded by a girl at an in-state race.
Academic excellence: Kelati has maintained a 3.20 GPA.
Exemplary character: A native of Eritrea in northeast Africa, she has volunteered locally on behalf of multiple community-service initiatives in association her church.
“Weini is such a positive, resilient young lady who has been through some big changes since coming to the United States,” said Joan Hunter, co-head coach of Loudoun Valley High. “After some initial adjustment to so many new things, Weini has really started to thrive. I think her ability to persevere through difficult life changes makes her incredibly mentally tough, which certainly translates to her racing and training.”
THE FUTURE: Kelati will begin her senior year of high school this fall.