CHICAGO — In its 31st year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, has announced Lindsay Billings of Northview High School as its 2015-16 Gatorade Georgia Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Billings is the first Gatorade Georgia Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Northview High School.
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 Billings as Georgia’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, Billings joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Ryan Hall (1999-00, 2000-01, Big Bear HS, Calif.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Abby Wambach (1997-98, Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.) and Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.).
The 5-foot-6 senior distance runner took fourth at the Foot Locker South Regional championships with a time of 17:15 this past season, and then finished 19th at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. Twice presented the Ray Buckley Award by the Atlanta Track Club as the All-Metro Runner of the Year, Billings won a second consecutive Class AAAAAA individual state championship with a time of 18:10.73, leading the Titans to third place as a team. She also captured the 2013 Class AAAAA individual state title as a sophomore.
Billings has maintained an A average in the classroom. A member of her school’s student leadership council, she has also volunteered on behalf of Atlanta’s SafeHouse Outreach mission and the Will to Life Foundation to promote suicide prevention awareness.
“Lindsay is the definition of character—hardworking, determined, respectful of her teammates as well as her opponents,” said Daniel Brock, head coach at rival Johns Creek High. “She is just an all-around fantastic young lady. She reminds me of 2012-2013 Gatorade Georgia Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year Allie Buchalski, who ran for me. She’s a coaches’ dream athlete who not only represents herself, her team and school, but the whole community in a positive light.”
Billings has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on an athletic scholarship at Duke University beginning 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 high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, 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.
Billings joins Gatorade Georgia Girls Cross Country Runners of the Year Emma Grace Hurley (2014-15, Fellowship Christian School), Kathryn Foreman (2013-14, Landmark Christian School), Allie Buchalski (2012-13, Johns Creek High School), Grace Tinkey (2011-12 & 2010-11, First Presbyterian Day School), Nicky Akande (2009-10, Collins Hill High School), Amanda Winslow (2008-09, Collins Hill High School), and Emily Reese (2007-08, Chamblee High School) as athletes who have won the cross country award since its inception in 2007.
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