Individual cross country state champs, Nevada Gatorade Athletes of the Year celebrated
Maybe Reed cross country is on its way back.
If the Raiders return to their dominant form of the 1980’s and early 90’s, when the boys and girls programs racked up 23 regional and state titles in 15 years, they’ll say it was because of this season.
While the Raiders didn’t win any team titles this fall, they did produce two individual state title winners: Anthony Ocegueda and Sam King-Shaw. Both seniors were named the Nevada Gatorade Cross Country Athletes of the Year last month. The duo was celebrated at a ceremony in the school’s gym on Friday afternoon.
“It’s beyond special. It’s pretty special,” Reed’s fourth-year cross country coach Lisa Stevens said. “These two really deserve it. (They) are very hard working. They always go the extra mile, literally and figuratively.”
The Gatorade Athlete of the Year award, which is in its 32nd year of existence, recognizes not only athletic achievement, but excellence in the classroom and in the community.
King-Shaw owns a 3.95 GPA and Ocegueda’s sits at 3.34.
King-Shaw, who also won a state title in the two-mile last spring as a junior, won the state championship in a personnel-best time of 18:09 during November’s state meet in Las Vegas.
“That was pretty much the coolest feeling ever,” she said. “It was just a really amazing culmination of the last three years I’ve put into cross country – pretty much I couldn’t have imagined a better ending.”
King-Shaw also won the 4A North regional title in the fall, just her third year running cross country. She played soccer as a freshman.
Ocegueda won the state meet in a time of 15:12 – the fastest ever run in the state championships and 16 seconds better than his previous personal record.
“I was kind of hoping for sub-15 that day, but 15:12 was amazing,” Ocegueda said. “I wanted to go low 15s … I definitely knew that was doable and that was definitely my goal for the race.
“It (Nevada Gatorade Cross County Athlete of the Year) is an amazing achievement. It’s all thanks to my coaches. If it wasn’t for them, how would I get here?”
As part of the Gatorade Play it Forward program, both athletes selected a local youth sports organization and awarded it a $1,000 grant.
Ocegueda presented the grant to Silver State Striders – the local club where he got his start in the sport.
“That was pretty cool,” Ocegueda said.
King-Shaw made the donation to TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program of Soccer) of Nevada – a program that pairs young individuals with kids aged 4-19 enduring mental or physical disabilities to teach them the game.
“As I played soccer, when I was younger, I knew that it (soccer) can make a really good impact and help you interact with people,” she said. “It was really cool. It was great. I love, obviously, giving back to the community.”
Both will compete on the track team in the spring, King-Shaw in the 1600 meters and 3200m, Ocegueda in the 1600m, 3200m and potentially the 800m. But neither knows where they are going beyond that.
King-Shaw will prioritize academics as she plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
“If I can run, that would be great,” she said. “If not, there’s other things to focus on.”
Ocegueda is more serious about running at the next level. He recently visited Utah Valley (a Div. I program in Orem, Utah) and is considering, among others, Southern Utah, the University of Portland and Boise State.
As they prepare for their final season competing at Reed and whatever lies ahead, they’ve already left their mark. They will be remembered as the best cross country runners in the entire state. They proved that Reed can return to its storied excellence.
“It’s incredible. It definitely gives more recognition to Reed,” Ocegueda said. “Our distance program hasn’t been as great. So, maybe this gives a little more incentive to the middle schoolers and some other people who aren’t leaning towards cross county. We have a great program here and I think we’ll start garnering more people now.”
The program is great because of what it accomplished in the past. That past now includes King-Shaw’s and Ocegueda’s state titles in November.
“They (King-Shaw, Ocegueda) are such great leaders,” Stevens said. “We will miss them tremendously.”