WASHBURN RURAL HIGH SCHOOL STANDOUT NAMED GATORADE® KANSAS GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY RUNNER OF THE YEAR
Photo by Nicoll Knudson
CHICAGO (January 14, 2010) — In its 25th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPN RISE, today announced Avery Clifton of Washburn Rural High School as its 2009-10 Gatorade Kansas Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Clifton is the first Gatorade Kansas Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Washburn Rural High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse, distinguishes Clifton as Kansas’ best high school girls cross country runner. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award to be announced in January, Clifton joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, MI), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, IL), Kevin Garnett (1992-93, Maudlin HS, SC), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, NY) and Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.).
The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Clifton won a second consecutive Class 6A state meet this past season with a time of 15:01.16, leading the Junior Blues to fifth place as a team. A 2009-10 ESPN RISE Southwest Region Athlete of the Week, the 5-foot-4 senior distance runner captured eighth place at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships in 18:16 en route to finishing 24th in the nation at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in 18:12. She also won the Rim Rock Farm High School Cross Country Classic in 14:40.92 this past fall.
A First Team All-City tennis player as named by the Topeka Capital-Journal, Clifton has maintained a 4.24 weighted GPA in the classroom. She has donated her time to a local Vacation Bible School, UNICEF, the Boys and Girls Club of Topeka, the Topeka Rescue Mission, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, an area church restoration project and to National Honor Society service initiatives. Clifton has also taught Sunday school at her church in addition to performing as a singer at several retirement communities.
“Avery never had a bad day,” said Washburn Rural Head Coach Scott Shufelberger. “She had to run time trials at most meets because there weren’t any kids able to race with her. Avery was always the first to practice and the last to leave, and she put in all the extra time to excel.”
Clifton has verbally committed to an athletic scholarship at Kansas State University this fall.
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. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Clifton joins Gatorade Kansas Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year Laura Roxberg (2007-08, Blue Valley Northwest) as athletes who have won the cross country award since its inception in 2007.
To celebrate the award’s 25th anniversary, Gatorade wants you to vote for the All-Time Greatest Players of the Year at gatorade.com/POY25. To keep up to date on the latest happenings, become a fan of Gatorade Player of the Year on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of past winners, and the announcement of the Gatorade National Player of the Year, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com.