Pinecrest High School student athlete, Carmen Alder, has been named Gatorade North Carolina Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year.

The sophomore cross country star is the first student from Pinecrest to be chosen for the award in the 34 years of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, according to a news release from Gatorade Monday.

Alder is a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year award to be announced in February.

“Carmen is probably the best female runner in school history—I’ve seen them all,” said Pinecrest head coach John Buchholz. “She works extremely hard, her attitude is infectious and she’s the type of role model (peers can look up to) in athletics, the community and the classroom.”

The 5-foot-8 sophomore broke the tape at the NCHSAA 4A State Championships, clocking the fastest all-class time of the day in 17:50.64 to finish 12.04 seconds ahead of her next-closest competitor.

The state’s top performer in finishing second at the prestigious Great American Cross Country Festival, Alder ran a personal-best time of 17:28.00, which ranks as the fastest girls 5K in North Carolina last fall.

She also finished 10th at the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional championships in 18:19.70. Alder won nine of 11 races during the 2018 campaign and clocked a sub-18 5K a state-best three times.

The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse.

A leader in her church community’s Young Women’s service organization, Alder has volunteered on behalf of Days for Girls, providing humanitarian aid to worldwide refugees, as well as the Special Olympics.

The daughter of a former Ecuadorian women’s national team runner, she has launched a youth running clinic in Ecuador in addition to volunteering stateside at a local bookstore and donating her time to the Helping Hands Organization in multiple hurricane clean-up efforts.

A participant in a weekday bible study class and a member of her church choir, she is also part of her school’s Future Business Leaders of America club.

Alder has maintained a weighted 3.63 GPA in the classroom. 

As a part of Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Alder has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choosing.

She is also eligible to submit an essay to win one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants for the organization of choice, which will be announced throughout the year.


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