For the second straight year, the selections were the same for the 2017-2018 Gatorade Cross Country athletes of the Year.
In its 34th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, the award, recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
Culbreath actually collected her third consecutive Gatorade AOY honor. She won her first back as a freshman when she started her streak of winning UIL 5A state cross country championships. This year, she added her third state title. She also qualified for NXN for the third time as well as the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in her first attempt. In qualifying, she first had to win both South Regional championships meets in consecutive weekends.
While winning her third Gatorade award, this was perhaps the closest race for the award for Culbreath. The quality level of running on the national scene by Texas girls was outstanding. In the In the end, winning McNeil, state, both South regional titles, her GPA, and community service was enough for the honor.
The race for the boys honor couldn't have been an easy decision this year either. Yet, Morris was able to win his second consecutive UIL 5A state championship and finishing third overall at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships combined with his GPA and community service was enough for another honor.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. From the 12 national winners, one male and one female athlete are each named Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year. In all, 607 athletes are honored each year.
Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student- athletes, visit www.Gatorade.com/POY , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade. ###