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Byers named Gatorade South Dakota girls cross country runner of the year

CHAMBERLAIN--After becoming the first female from Chamberlain to win a state title in cross country in October, Ella Byers became the first Chamberlain student to be named the Gatorade South Dakota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

CHAMBERLAIN-After becoming the first female from Chamberlain to win a state title in cross country in October, Ella Byers became the first Chamberlain student to be named the Gatorade South Dakota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

The award, which recognizes outstanding athletic excellence and high standards of academic achievement along with exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse, was announced on Thursday.

Byers is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, which will be announced later in January.

The 5-foot-6 freshman cross country runner had stellar season in 2015 capped off by claiming the Class A girls cross country state title by more than 20 seconds at Yankton Trail Park in Sioux Falls.

Byers finished with a time of 18 minutes and 41 seconds, which was the fastest time throughout all three girls classes at the event. Byers was undefeated on the season, including wins at the Central South Dakota Conference meet and the Region 4A meet. She also maintains a 3.85 GPA.

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"Ella Byers has a year-round drive for excellence," said Chamberlain High head coach Garry Winter. "Winning races and having the kind of success she has enjoyed is a nice confirmation of her efforts."

Since its inception in 2007, 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 and field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.

Byers joins Emily Hawkes (2014-15, Madison High School), Tamara Gorman (2013-14, 2012-13 & 2010-11, Stevens High School), Alex Hess (2011-12, Roosevelt High School), Madeleine Takahashi (2009-10, Sturgis Brown High School), Seanna Kautz (2008-09, Roosevelt High School) and Mariah Hofer (2007-08, Yankton High School) as athletes who have won the cross country award.

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