For a list of the other Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Gabrielle Jennings
School: First Baptist Christian School (Slidell, La.)
Athletic achievement: She raced to a fifth consecutive Class C individual state championship with a time of 19:29.59 this past season. Also The Times-Picayune’s All-New Orleans Area Runner of the Year, Jennings toed the line in five regular-season races this past fall, winning four by an average of 30.3 seconds and recording the state’s fastest time with a 13th-place finish at the prestigious Jesse Owens Classic.
Academic excellence: Also an accomplished artist, dancer and swimmer, Jennings has maintained a 3.85 GPA in the classroom and has served as her school’s student council secretary.
Exemplary character: In addition to donating her time as a youth running instructor, she has volunteered locally on behalf of her church, the First Baptist Christian School, the National Beta Club and World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization.
“Gabrielle is a true runner in every sense of the word, running not for the awards and accolades, but for her love of the sport,” said First Baptist Christian School head coach Todd Jennings. “She truly enjoys every aspect of running, including the ability to reach out to others on her team, as well as competitors, to encourage them to ‘just try to do their best’ and achieve their goals. This is evident at every meet, where she can be seen yelling and cheering on every runner.”
THE FUTURE: Jennings will begin her sophomore year of high school this fall.