Best in class: Seidel earns national honor
Molly Seidel named national runner of the year
Molly Seidel has gone a lot of places in her high school career that no athlete ever gets the chance to go. While she's won just about every cross country award imaginable, Seidel was honored like no other female athlete in Wisconsin history Tuesday morning.
Seidel, who earlier was named the Wisconsin female cross country runner of the season by the State Coaches Association and then the Gatorade Wisconsin female runner of the year, picked up her biggest piece of hardware when she was named the winner of the Gatorade 2011 National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
She's the first female athlete in state history to win the Gatorade National award and just the second state athlete to capture such an honor. The only other state athlete to be named a national winner was Andy Kirk of Marquette High School for boys soccer in 1995.
Seidel, who knew she was a finalist for the national award, was surprised Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. when one of her running idols, US Distance Olympian Shalane Flanagan, walked into her high school classroom at University Lake School in Hartland and told Seidel she had won the national award.
"I was totally shocked when Shalane came into my classroom," the ULS senior said prior to the 10 a.m. official announcement that was made in the school's theater with the entire school body cheering for her. "I didn't have any idea about what was happening. I thought it was just another day at school. And then Shalane came in and I couldn't believe it. This is outstanding. It's very humbling to win this award."
The national Gatorade award goes to only the best athletes in the country, both on the athletic field, in the classroom and in the community. Besides her athletic accomplishments, which include winning four straight WIAA individual state championships, Seidel also has a 4.0 grade point average and is very active at her church at St. Joan of Arc and around the Lake Country area.
"We're honored to be presenting this award to you," said Gatorade spokesman Nancy Laroche of Chicago. "You are very deserving of this and we're proud to have you as part of our Gatorade family. You're in special company as of today."
Some of the more notable athletes to win the National Gatorade Player of the Year in their respective sports include Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys and Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker of WNBA fame.
After being presented with the beautiful trophy for winning the award, Seidel, who will compete at Notre Dame next fall, thanked a lot of people for giving her the chance to win the award.
"I couldn't have done this without the help of a lot of people," Seidel said. "I first want to thank everyone at ULS, from the students, to the teachers, the administration and all of my coaches. I also want to thank Mike Mulrooney for everything he's done to help make this possible and, of course, my parents, brother and sister. This is a special day. I'll never forget it."
Gatorade has been naming national athletes of the year for the past 27 years. Right now, they hand out awards in 12 sports each year. Only 237 athletes in that span, including Seidel, have won the national award.
But there could be one more award coming Seidel's way in July. At that time, all of the national winners in their respective sports will be entertained at the annual ESPY Awards Show in California, put on by ESPN, honoring the top athletes in the country. At that time, the national high school female winner and national high school male winner will be introduced to the sell-out crowd and the nationally televised audience.
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