Sydney Thorvaldson of Rawlins is the 2020-21 Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year.

In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes, The Gatorade Company made the announcement on Wednesday. The senior at Rawlins High School becomes the first-ever national award winner from Wyoming.

Thorvaldson earns this prestigious accolade for her efforts on and off the field. She is a four-time Gatorade Wyoming Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. She has won six Gatorade awards in her prep career, to date. Thorvaldson is a four-time state champion in cross country, never lost a high school race in Wyoming, and holds several state and national records.

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Away from running, she is a member of the Rawlins High School student council and National Honor Society. Thorvaldson has volunteered locally on behalf of community beautification projects and has donated her time as a teacher’s aide at her church.

The senior maintains a 4.0 GPA in the classroom and has signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country and track on scholarship at the University of Arkansas this fall.

She joins an elite group of former national winners who have combined for eight national championships and five bronze medals. Noteworthy past winners include Jordan Hasay, who holds the record for the fastest-ever debut marathon by an American woman, 4-time NCAA champion Molly Seidel and Katelyn Tuohy, the winningest Gatorade Player of the Year in history.

“In a broken season, Thorvaldson actively pursued racing against the best athletes around the country, even traveling thousands of miles to ensure she would be challenged by defending state champions and returning All-Americans,” said Erik Boal, an editor with Dyestat, in a release from The Gatorade Company. “In spite of battling some of the most difficult racing conditions in the nation and, with her legacy in Wyoming unmatched, she saved her best performances for prestigious courses and showcase races in Colorado, Indiana, and Texas, consistently separating herself from elite competitors by significant and often lopsided margins.”

The release from The Gatorade Company states, the award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Thorvaldson as the nation’s best high school girls cross country player. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Thorvaldson from nearly 300,000 high school girls cross country players nationwide.

“Sydney is one of the best high school athletes in the country, but she also performs admirably in the classroom and the community,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O’Brien. “This award is about celebrating the whole student-athlete for who they are, and we look forward to seeing Sydney’s continued success in and out of sports.”

How tough is it to win this honor? The Gatorade Company says that competition for the national award was fierce. Thorvaldson topped the list of state winners in girls cross country who collectively boast an incredible list of accomplishments, including 15 repeat Gatorade State Players of the Year, 21 who volunteer at two or more organizations, and 30 with GPAs of 4.0 or higher.

Each year a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, choosing national winners in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track and field.

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. Previous winners include a distinguished list of athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, Derek Jeter, Elena Delle Donne, and many other sports icons.

To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.

*Information from a press release from The Gatorade Company was used in this story.

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