PRESS RELEASE from Gatorade Player of the Year Program
Rawlins, Wyo. [April 14, 2021] – In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes, The Gatorade Company today announced Sydney Thorvaldson of Rawlins High School in Rawlins, Wyo. is the 2020-21 Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. Thorvaldson won the prestigious award for her accomplishments on and off the field, joining an impressive group of former Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year winners who have combined for eight NCAA National Championships and five bronze medals in international competition representing Team USA.
Thorvaldson was surprised by her family, coaches and teammates at school. Check out a video of the announcement here.
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.
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.
“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 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 state’s three-time returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Player of the Year and a two-time Gatorade Wyoming Girls Track & Field Player of the Year, the 5-foot-4 senior won the Class 3A state meet this past season with a state-record time of 16:59.6, breaking the tape more than two minutes and thirty seconds ahead of her next-closest competitor, leading the Outlaws to a fourth place finish as a team. Thorvaldson also set a state prep 5K record in Colorado when she won the Heritage Distance Classic in 16:19.0. She also owns the fastest prep 5K mark in Idaho by virtue of her title-winning run at the Nike Cross Nationals Northwest Regional in 2019.
Thorvaldson won the NSAF's XC Town USA Meet of Champions in November at LaVern Gibson in Terre Haute, beating a great field and destroying the HS and all-comers course records records with her 16:38.9. Gatorade is a proud partner with the NSAF!
Photo at right by Chris Nickinson, RunnerSpace.com
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.
Thorvaldson has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country and track on scholarship at the University of Arkansas this fall.
“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.”
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.
Gatorade is dedicated to recognizing, supporting and keeping athletes in the game because of the lifelong skills sports instill on and off the 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.
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