In its 32nd year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, announced Shane Henderson of Star Valley High School as its 2016-17 Gatorade Wyoming Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Henderson is the first Gatorade Wyoming Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year to be chosen from Star Valley 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 Henderson as Wyoming’s best high school boys cross country runner.

Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award to be announced in January, Henderson joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lukas Verzbicas (2010-11, 2009-10 Carl Sandburg, Orland Park, Ill.), Megan Goethals (2009-10, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Mich.), Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Prep., San Luis Obispo, Calif.), Donn Cabral (2007-08, Glastonbury High School, Glastonbury, Conn.) and Chris Derrick (2007-08, Neuqua Valley, Naperville, Ill.).

The 5-foot-10, 152-pound junior won the Class 3A state meet this past season with a time of 16:00.39, breaking the tape 25.86 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor and leading the Braves to a first-place finish as a team.

Henderson took 19th at the Nike Cross Nationals Northwest Regional championships to earn Third Team All-Region honors and placed 90th at the Foot Locker West Regional championships.

A member of the Star Valley student council and a cellist in the school orchestra, Henderson has volunteered locally on behalf of area beautification projects and as part of multiple community-service initiatives through his church.

“Shane is a smart, confident runner with excellent instincts,” said Maggie Kirkham, head coach of Cody High. “He is a great leader for his team and is an excellent ambassador for the sport because he is supportive of runners from every team.”

Henderson has maintained a 3.99 GPA in the classroom.

He will begin his senior year of high school 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 Player of the Year Selection Committee, 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.

Henderson joins Gatorade Wyoming Boys Cross Country Runners of the Year Brody Smith (2015-16 & 2014-15, Cody High School), Jonah Henry (2013-14, Laramie High School), Ricky Faure (2012-13, Rock Springs High School), Oliver Scofield (2011-12, Jackson Hole High School), Alex Sorensen (2010-11, Evanston High School), Spencer Pecha (2009-10, Campbell County High School), and Dominick Robinson (2008-09 & 2007-08, Campbell County High School) as athletes who have won the cross country award since its inception in 2007.

As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Henderson will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program.

Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.