In General News, Press Releases

In its 39th year of honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Kate Henderson of Sandia Preparatory School is the 2023-24 Gatorade New Mexico Girls Cross Country Player of the Year. Henderson is the first Gatorade New Mexico Girls Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Sandia Preparatory School.

The award, which celebrates the nation’s top high school athletes for excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community, distinguishes Henderson as New Mexico’s best high school girls cross country player. From CEOs and coaches to star athletes, Gatorade Player of the Year winners showcase the power of sport, touting an all-star group of alumni that includes Irene Riggs (2022-23, 2021-22 & 2020-21, Morgantown High School, Morgantown, W. Va.), Katelyn Tuohy (2019-20, 2018-19 & 2017-18, North Rockland High School, Thiels, N.Y.) and Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School, San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

The 5-foot-4 junior raced to a Top 30 finish in the highly competitive Nike Cross Southwest Region Girls Championship Race this past season, crossing the line with a personal-best time of 18:03.66. Henderson also took third at the Class 3A state meet—a loss she avenged at Nike—leading the Sundevils to second place as a team. At the Los Lunas Invitational, she won by 41 seconds, lifting her squad to the program’s first invitational meet team victory in five years.

An accomplished artist in the media of acrylic canvas printing, ceramics and photography, Henderson has volunteered locally with Helping Hands at Sandia Prep, which undertakes service projects for the Roadrunner Food Bank. She has also donated her time to Service Learning at the Bosque School, helping coordinate a student body workforce that supports Locker 505, a student clothing bank that provides appropriate school attire to Bernalillo County students in need. “The Sandia Prep junior rose to new levels this year,” said Rich Gonzalez of PrepCalTrack. “She  saved her best for last, taking 28th at the Nike Cross Southwest Region championships—the top time by a New Mexico high schooler at the toughest regional meet in America.”

Henderson has maintained a 3.98 GPA in the classroom. She will begin her 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 leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.

Henderson joins recent Gatorade New Mexico Girls Cross Country Players of the Year Leah Futey (2022-23 & 2019-20, Sue Cleveland High School), Raylee Hunt (2021-22, St. Michael’s High School) and Laurynn Sisneros (2020-21, Eldorado High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.

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