CHICAGO (January 23, 2017) — In its 32nd year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, today announced Cheyenne Walden of Charles Page High School as its 2016-17 Gatorade Oklahoma Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Walden is the first Gatorade Oklahoma Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Charles Page High School, and it is her fourth time being selected.
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 Walden as Oklahoma’s 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/February, Walden joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lukas Verzbicas (2010-11, 2009-10 Carl Sandburg, Orland Park, Ill.), Megan Goethals (2009-10, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Mich.), Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Prep., San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Chris Derrick (2007-08, Neuqua Valley, Naperville, Ill.).
The three-time returning Gatorade Runner of the Year, the 5-foot-4 senior won her fourth-straight Class 6A state meet title this past season with a course-record time of 17:55.6, breaking the tape 40.8 seconds ahead of her next-closest competitor and leading the Sandites to an eighth-place finish as a team. Walden finished 34th at the Nike Cross Nationals Final and became the first Oklahoman to twice qualify for NXN Final. She also took 11th at the Foot Locker South Regional championships.
In addition to her four Cross Country titles, she is also a three-time State Champion on the track. She won gold in 2015 for the 3200 meter run, and won both the 1600 and 3200 in 2016.
Diagnosed with central auditory processing disorder and dyslexia, Walden speaks to youth groups about her learning challenges and working to overcome them. She has also volunteered locally at the Sand Springs Children’s Home and as a youth running coach. “Cheyenne had a great year,” said David Ayres, Bartlesville High head coach. “She is an amazing competitor and pushes herself every race. She trains hard, eats right and knows what it takes to succeed. She is one of the best Oklahoma runners ever and it’s an honor to watch her run and to be on the same field as her.”
Walden has maintained a weighted 3.76 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country on scholarship at Oklahoma 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 the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, 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.
Four-time winner Walden joins Gatorade Oklahoma Girls Cross Country Runners of the Year Alex Davis (2012-13 & 2011-12, Plainview High School), Noemi Hernandez (2010-11, Westmoore High School), Jori Davis (2009-10, Piedmont High School), Andrea Lewis (2008- 09, Bishop Kelley High School), and Sara Vaughn (2007-08, Union High School) as athletes who have won the cross country award since its inception in 2007.
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Walden will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.
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