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Monday, March 26, 2012
Tragedy strikes North Dakota XC community

By Ben Rohrbach

The ESPNHS team that administers the Gatorade Player of the Year Program would like to extend our condolences to the family of Robyn Essler, a Gatorade North Dakota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year finalist this past fall.

The 15-year-old Garrison (N.D.) freshman was reportedly killed in a car crash Thursday afternoon near her hometown, according to local NBC affiliate KFYR-TV.

Essler captured the Class B individual state championship this past season, covering the 4K course with a time of 14:52.60. She also won the Class B West Regional meet, establishing herself as one of the state's premier running talents along with two-time reigning Gatorade North Dakota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year Tarin Lachowitzer.

Essler maintained an A average in the classroom and participated in both her school's band and choir. In addition to donating her time as a youth basketball instructor, she also volunteered extensively on behalf of her church, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Future Farmers of America and several local festivals.

She lived the Gatorade program's three pillars of athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.