Oklahoma State commit Natalie Cook, a student at Flower Mound High School, has been named the 2021-22 Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year.
According to Gatorade, Cook won the award for her accomplishments on and off the field.
She joins a group of former Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Players of the Year who have combined for eight National Championships and five bronze medals, Gatorade said.
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 Cook as the nation's best high school girls cross country runner.
The Gatorade said its Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others to evaluate candidates, selected Cook from nearly 300,000 other student-athletes who compete in girls cross country nationwide.
According to Gatorade, Cook topped the list of state winners in girls cross country, including 13 returning state Gatorade Players of the Year, 24 with signed National Letters of Intent to run at Division I colleges/universities, and 28 with a GPA of 4.0 and above.
"At the season's start, Natalie Cook was a top-20 or so competitor nationally, and she finished third at the prestigious Woodbridge Invitational in California," said Doug Binder, Dyestat.com Editor-in-Chief. "By December, she was the most dominant prep runner in the country. Her progress through the season propelled her to some amazing achievements, including becoming the first prep girl to win national titles in back-to-back weekends. She scorched the RunningLane championships course with the second-fastest 5K on record, then beat the strongest field of the year at the national Eastbay Cross Country Championships, which left no doubt about who was the top gun in 2021."
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Cook won two national titles this past season, winning the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships with a time of 16:04 and breaking the tape at the Eastbay Cross Country Championships in 17:15.
Gatorade said she also won the Class 6A individual state championship, leading the Jaguars to the state title as a team.
Cook won additional victories at the Eastbay South Regional Championships, the Region 1 championships, and the District 6 championships, while placing third at the Woodbridge Classic.
According to Gatorade, no prep girl has ever won the two culminating national championship races in a single cross country season.
When she was not running, she volunteered on behalf of local middle school cross country programs and coached youth track athletes every summer, Gatorade said.
Cook has maintained a weighted 3.63 GPA in the classroom and has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at Oklahoma State University this fall.
"It's really an amazing accomplishment to see your name on the Gatorade National Player of the Year trophy, next to so many greats like Jordan Hasay, Molly Seidel and Katelyn Tuohy," said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O'Brien. "All the hard work has paid off as Natalie is now a forever part of the Gatorade family and sports history."
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit the Gatorade website or the Gatorade social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.