One of the state’s premier cross country runners, Gayville-Volin’s Laura Nelson has been named the Gatorade South Dakota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“Laura Nelson dominated the cross country scene throughout the year,” Viborg-Hurley coach Bill Hansen said. “She dominated Class B. There wasn’t anyone within 100 meters of her after the first 2,000 meters of the race.”
A 5-foot-4 senior, Nelson claimed her second Class B state championship in October, completing her two loops around Huron’s Broadland Creek Golf Course in 18:38.88. That time placed her 1:20.96 ahead of the next-closest finisher.
A month after her dominating run at state, Nelson finished 19th at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships and 26th at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships.
Nelson is the first athlete from Gayville-Volin to be selected by Gatorade as the state’s top cross country runner.
The Gatorade Player of the Year awards recognize athletic excellence, as well as academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
Nelson, who is signed to compete at the University of South Dakota this fall, boasts a weighted 4.21 GPA.
In addition to her athletic and academic achievements, Nelson is an award-winning clarinet and piano player. She has also volunteered as a mentor through Students Against Destructive Decisions and has donated her time on behalf of multiple community-service initiatives through her church.
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Peters will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .