Carson Belnap of Stansbury High School had already won the individual state cross country title in 4A. And his Stallions team had already won the 4A title as a collective.
But there was something unique about winning the Gatorade award for boys cross country in Utah.
“For state, there’s six classifications so there’s six state champions,” Belnap said. “But there’s only one player of the year.”
Belnap was named Runner of the Year by the sports drink company after a stellar senior year both individually and for his team. His state championship was the first he’d ever won, and he also qualified for nationals for the first time in his running career.
The senior is also the first boys cross country athlete from his school to win the Gatorade award.
“Carson truly found himself this season, week by week, race by race,” Steve Allen, one of Stansbury’s cross country coaches, said in a news release. “He wanted to be a state cross country champion and he never wavered from believing in his goals.”
Belnap learned of winning the award last week early one morning. The first person he told was his mother.
“She was super excited,” Belnap said. “She thought it was super cool.”
Belnap’s running career will continue in college after committing to Brigham Young University. He also competed in long distance events on Stansbury’s track team.
“Carson has very methodically done the work, kept even the little details in focus, and placed himself on the path to achieving excellence,” Stansbury head coach Gary Lund wrote in an email. “Carson has really matured into the ‘whole package.’ He is still a teenager, but he has really figured out how to keep everything directed at where he wants to go.”