MURFREESBORO — Taylor Cuneo received the text message Thursday morning.
The Central Magnet standout distance runner had garnered another honor.
Cuneo, a 5-foot-3 sophomore, was named Tennessee Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for the second consecutive season.
“It’s just an honor to be chosen,” Cuneo said. “I’ve worked really hard for this.”
Cuneo, who ran the fastest time for any female in this year’s TSSAA’s state cross country meet (18:21.24), won her second consecutive Class A/AA state title over Christian Academy of Knoxville’s Rebecca Story.
Cuneo is the first Rutherford County athlete to garner multiple TSSAA cross country state titles.
“Taylor Cuneo is certainly an amazing student-athlete,” Riverdale coach Stephen Williams said. “As far as sheer talent and further potential, I sincerely believe that she is the best girls cross country runner in the state. I have watched Cuneo race since she began in middle school, and every time she has a hiccup, she comes back twice as strong at the next race.”
Cuneo now has five TSSAA individual state titles. She won three track championships — 800-meter run, 1,600 and 3,200 — during the 2015 TSSAA State Track and Field Championships. Cuneo said she hasn’t ruled out trying to win all three events this season.
Cuneo finished fourth at the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast championships, finishing in 17:31. She then finished 19th (17:31.7) in the Nike Cross Nationals Final.
Cuneo maintains a 4.0 GPA. She’s a member of the Key Club and Central’s chapter of the Society of Women in Engineering. And she volunteers locally on behalf of her church youth group.
All play factors in the Gatorade award.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Central Magnet coach Allen Nichols, to see Cuneo honored. “Taylor’s determination and sheer will to compete made her the perfect recipient for this.
“I’m tickled to death to see her recognized.”
Nichols said he taught Cuneo a year ago in a human geography course.
“She took that exam in May and passed it for college credit,” Nichols said. “All of the teachers here talk about her hard work and how she is driven to be successful.
“I think this reward shows Taylor as being a well-rounded person, not just athletically.”
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.