MHS harrier wins prestigious Gatorade award

The Mustang Board of Education honored Gabe Simonsen (shown with coach Mike McGarry) Monday for being named the Gatorade Oklahoma Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. Photo / Chris Eversole

Mustang High junior Gabe Simonsen continues to add to a resume that some day may celebrate him as the Broncos’ best distance runner.
Monday, it was announced that Simonsen has been chosen Oklahoma’s Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Simonsen, 17, is a two-time Class 6A state cross-country champion and recently returned from San Diego, where he placed fifth in the U.S. Track & Field Junior Cross Country Champ-ionships on Jan. 18.
“As soon as I got back from my early-morning shakeout run, my dad told me to check my email,” Simonsen said. “When I did, I saw that Gatorade sent me a message saying that I won Gatorade Runner of the Year in Oklahoma. I was super excited and happy.”
Three criteria are used to determine winners of the Gatorade award: elite running ability, outstanding academics and involvement in school and community activities.
“To get this, you have to have the whole package,” said Mike McGarry, MHS’ veteran boys coach in cross country/track and field. “You need to be an elite runner. He has the grade-point average and is involved in school and the community.”
Simonsen, who is active in youth group at Chisholm Heights Baptist Church, said he has a 4.07 GPA and is a member of National Honor Society. He already is preparing for college and a career.
“I hope to go to medical school and then into orthopedics,” he explained.
Simonsen currently is training to compete in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters during high school track and field season.
He said his next competition will be Feb. 23 in a meet at Pittsburg (Kansas) State University, where he’ll race in the 3,200.
“Training is going pretty smooth,” Simonsen said.
Simonsen has been putting together an amazing season of achievements.
Besides winning his second 6A state cross-country crown at Edmond Santa Fe High School with 15:39.89 over 5,000 meters on Nov. 2, he was the only Oklahoman selected to the eight-member Wings of America National Team that ran in San Diego.
Wings of America is a Native American organization and sponsor that selects the best Indian boys and girls runners in the nation to compete.
Simonsen is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation.
Only one high school runner placed ahead of Simonsen in junior nationals; the others were college freshmen.
Simonsen ran 27:14.8 in the 8,000-meter race (about five miles) at San Diego’s Mission Bay Park.
Setting the pace to win in 25:44.8 was Sam Gorgas of Northern Arizona.
Simonsen also ran Nov. 23 in the Nike South Regional in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. He clocked 15:43 in a 5,000-meter qualifier for the
regional.
“I’ve had runners who were good when they were young and then lost their motivation,” McGarry said. “I tell runners they’re not machines. With Gabe, he’s a dedicated person who is very focused, and I don’t see that happening.
“Gabe is probably 20 to 30 seconds faster than he was last year.”
Simonsen was The Oklahoman’s All-City Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2018.
He now is a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award, which will be announced later this month.

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