Gatorade showers Smith with honor
Ever since she was little, Kelsey Smith has had a thirst for running.
So it only seems reasonable that a sports drink giant should recognize the South Tahoe High sophomore runner.
Gatorade announced earlier this week that Smith is its Nevada Girls’ Country Runner of the Year. She is a member of Gatorade’s inaugural class of girls’ state cross country runners of the year.
“Fifty states and to choose me from all of Nevada, it’s incredible,” Smith said. “It’s probably the top (honor I’ve won).”
With the award, Smith is eligible for the Gatorade National Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year award that is announced later this month.
Smith captured her first state individual title last November in Reno and won every race in Nevada except for the regional championship. She followed her state title by placing third in her age group at the USA Track and Field’s Junior National Cross Country Championships in Lawrence, Kan.
She attributes her success to “my love for the sport ever since I’ve doing it and my motivation to keep running.”
That commitment and devotion isn’t lost on her dad, Doug.
“She has a very good attitude about running and she really enjoys it. She really likes doing this a lot and she appreciates all the support,” he said.
Gatorade has been recognizing high school student athletes for three decades. The sports drink company now honors athletes in 12 varsity sports, basing their selections on athletic excellence, academic achievement and character.
Smith carries a 4.0 grade-point average and makes others feel at ease around her.
“I treat everybody the same,” she said. “I try to make people happy and be nice to everybody.”
In the past, Gatorade has recognized such student athletes as Emmitt Smith, Lisa Leslie, Allyson Felix and Peyton Manning.
Smith will receive a plaque and commemorative Gatorade Player of the Year bottle. South Tahoe High will also receive a banner in Smith’s honor.
It marks the second straight year that a local athletes has been honored by Gatorade. Last year, Jessica Woods, now a freshman at Wright State University, received the Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year for Nevada.
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“Let Them Play,” rallies are taking place across California with a mission to bring back high school and youth sports.