By Fred Liggett

The last week of January has been very good to the Lee’s Summit West Cross Country program and its state champion in senior Ginger Murnieks. On Monday the Gatorade company announced Murnieks as its 2018-19 Gatorade Missouri Girls Cross Country runner of the year. This is the first such honor in Lee’s Summit West’s athletic history.

After winning the state award Murnieks is now a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country runner of the year award to be announced sometime before mid-February. The senior-year transfer from Oregon had a tremendous season here in Missouri to cap her high school career. Murnieks won the Class 4 State Championship with the fastest all-class time of the day at 18:35.78. Unbeaten by a Missouri girl all season, Murnieks won six of seven races last fall. In addition to state competition, Murnieks competed at the Nike Cross National Midwest regional championships where she finished 34th.

The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement. Murnieks maintains a 4.11 GPA at LS West. Her efforts have paid off as she signed a letter of intent at the University of Missouri and will compete in Cross Country and Track & Field.

Murnieks coach at Lee’s Summit West, Jesse Griffin, had many superlatives to describe the work she has done both in the classroom and in sports. Griffin describes Murnieks “as one of the most hard working kids in my career.” Griffin adds, “She wants and loves the process. Ginger is a good person, somebody you would want on your team.”

As part of the Gatorade marketing campaign “Play it Forward” Murnieks has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of her choosing. The way Murnieks senior year has gone don’t be surprised to hear of another honor heading her way real soon.