By Ben Rohrbach
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year winners
THE WINNER: Futsum Zeinasellassie
School: North Central (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Athletic achievement: Zeinasellassie raced to the Nike Cross Nationals championship this past season with a course-record time of 15:02.41. The state’s returning Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, he also won his third consecutive individual state championship in a course-record 14:48.8, by a meet-record margin of 44 seconds. He broke the tape at the NXN Midwest Regional championships in 15:42.8, the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championship in 14:58 and finished second at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships with a time of 14:52.1.
Academic excellence: Zeinasellassie has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A devoted member of his church community, he has volunteered with youth track programs and raised funds to benefit a school in Kenya.
“Futsum certainly had one of the finest seasons any prep harrier has had,” said ESPNHS Dyestat Senior Editor Steve Underwood. “In his biggest races before a one-second loss at Foot Locker nationals, he produced stunning performances: Beating a course record held by two-time Gatorade National Runner of the Year Lukas Verzbicas in his dominant state meet triumph, then breaking the Nike Cross Nationals Final meet record in Portland — where he also enjoyed the biggest margin of victory in meet history. Only Verzbicas has won both national meets (in a single season) and the fact that Futsum came within a second of doing so as well, speaks volumes."
THE FUTURE: Zeinasellassie remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.