A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
THE WINNER: Carmen Carlos
School: McGill-Toolen Catholic (Mobile, Ala.)
Athletic achievement: Carlos raced to a third consecutive Class 6A individual state championship this past season with a course-record time of 17:19.76, leading the Yellow Jackets to second place as a team. The state’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Carlos placed 28th at the Foot Locker South Regional championships in 17:59. Also a three-time Runner of the Year as named by the Mobile Press-Register, she finished eighth at the 2008 Class 6A state meet as an eighth-grader.
Academic excellence: A standout track athlete and an accomplished artist, Carlos has maintained a 4.22 weighted GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A member of the Junior National Honor Society and a student ambassador at her school, she has volunteered locally at a nursing home, as part of the Servants of the Poor service club and on behalf of her church as well as McGill-Toolen Catholic’s campus ministry.
“She’s starting to realize that to run really fast, it’s going to hurt a little longer,” said McGill-Toolen Catholic head coach Drew Bentley. “She learned she can run through pain and run faster. She’s never been beaten by an Alabama athlete in high school, and every time she goes back to a course she gets better. She destroyed the state meet course record and had to do it alone. It was the first time she ever told me what she planned on doing, and it was a big culmination. It was awesome.”
THE FUTURE: Carlos will begin her senior year of high school this fall.