From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point, a number of elite performers have made a case for Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior distance runner, Mount Tabor (N.C.)
Greatness Present: When Montgomery was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 14 and told she may one day lose all mobility, she told her cross country coach, “‘I want to run fast, and do not hold back.”
This past fall, despite losing feeling in her legs and having to be caught at the finish line of every race, the 5-foot-2 senior achieved her goal of becoming North Carolina’s fastest harrier, recording the state’s top 5,000-meter performance of the season with a time of 17:22 at November’s Foot Locker South Regional championships. Her 11th-place finish marked the top time ever recorded by a female who did not qualify for the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
“Kayla is without a doubt the runner that has had the biggest impact on multiple levels that I have ever had the privilege of knowing,” said Nate Newsome, head coach of rival South Forsyth (Raleigh, N.C.). “Inspiring doesn’t due justice; rather, miraculous seems a better fit. I am thankful to have been witness to the whole story. Amazing. The grace in which she carries herself has made me as a parent of a runner point to her as the real-life epitome of how to be strong.”
Montgomery won her conference championship by 26.5 seconds and captured the Class 4A individual state championship in 17:29.12. During the regular season, she placed first in five races in addition to clocking the state’s top time at the Knights Crossing Invitational in Virginia and the prestigious Wendy’s Invitational in N.C.
Greatness Past: As a junior, Montgomery finished seventh in the 5,000-meter run at New Balance Indoor Nationals. She also finished 15th at the Foot Locker South Regional championships in 2012.
Greatness Future: Montgomery will run for Lipscomb University.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year races aren’t over, and the National ROY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list.Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.