A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Boys 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.
For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Colton Ham
School: Merrimack Valley (Penacook, N.H.)
Athletic achievement: Ham raced to the Division 2 individual state championship this past season with a time of 16:10, leading the Pride to fourth place as a team. A First Team All-State selection as named by the New Hampshire Union Leader, he placed seventh at the Meet of Champions in 15:58.50 and finished 25th at the New England Cross Country Championships in 16:25. He took second in the Manchester Invitational Large School competition this past fall, crossing the line in 16:24. He recorded a third-place finish at the 2010 Division 2 state meet as a junior.
Academic excellence: Ham has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating his time as a youth running instructor, he has volunteered locally as part of charitable running events, an elementary school health fair and tornado cleanup efforts.
“Colton’s success came as a result of years of hard work and dedication to the sport of distance running,” said Merrimack Valley head coach Dave Irving. “He improved consistently each year, each year surpassing others who had previously been ahead of him. His continued improvement is his most impressive quality -- that fact that he exemplifies the success that continued focus, goal-setting, and hard work can bring you.
THE FUTURE: Ham remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.