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: Maria Hauger
School: Shakopee (Minn.)
Athletic achievement: Hauger won the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships this past season with a time of 17:52.7, qualifying for the 2011 Nike Cross Nationals Final, where she finished 24th. A three-time First Team All-State selection, she also placed fifth at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships with a time of 17:40, earning a spot in the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, where she finished 21st in 18:07. Hauger was the only female competitor in the nation to crack the top 25 at both FL Nationals and the NXN Final. The 2009-10 and 2010-11 Gatorade Minnesota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year also won her third straight Class AA individual state championship, breaking the tape in 14:04.1 and leading the Sabers to fourth place as a team.
Academic excellence: Hauger has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: An active member of her church community and her school’s student council, she has volunteered locally on behalf of the American Cancer Society, Toys for Tots and the National Honor Society.
“Maria Hauger is the hardest-working athlete I have ever coached,” said Shakopee head coach Mark Neu. “She is as humble as can be, a class act and she had another outstanding season.”
THE FUTURE: Hauger will begin her senior year of high school this fall.