For a list of the other Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Jason Thomas
School: Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines, Iowa)
Athletic achievement: He raced to the Class 4A individual state championship this past season with a time of 15:02, tying a state meet record and leading the Maroons to the state title as a team. Thomas was the top Iowa finisher at the 2012 Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships, placing 12th with a time of 15:54.9, and at the Nike Cross Nationals Final, where he placed 73rd.
Academic excellence: Thomas has maintained a 3.96 weighted GPA in the classroom.
Exemplary character: He has volunteered locally with the Salvation Army and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with his church youth group.
“Jason Thomas is one heck of a good athlete,” said Matt Jaschen, head coach of Johnston (Iowa). “He has really come on strong the last couple of years. When it came time for the big meets, Jason performed in the clutch at a level we rarely see in Iowa cross country.”
THE FUTURE: Thomas remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.