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  • Karas, Kessinger Win Midway University/KHSAA Cross Country Female Student-Athlete of the Year Awards

April 24, 2017

Cross country standouts excel in competition and classroom, give back to community

(Midway, Ky.) – Following the completion of the high school cross country season, Midway University and the KHSAA presented two Female Student-Athlete of the Year Awards to Gabriella Karas of Martha Layne Collins High School and Charlotte Kessigner of Henry Clay High School.

Karas, a senior, captured the award at the 2A level to cap a career in which she won a combined 13 state championships in cross country and track and placed in the top 10 in a national cross country race. She is the state record holder for high school women’s 5K.

Her coach, Sean Roberts, describes her as a favorite among fans and competitors alike, noting “When she was forced to miss her junior year in cross country, several coaches and professionals in the sport remarked that races just weren’t as fun to watch without her. She is often seen wishing other athletes good luck before a race and congratulating them and giving out hugs to her competitors after they finish.”

Away from the course, Karas is heavily involved with extracurricular and community activities, including Beta Club, Y Club and her church’s youth group.

Charlotte Kessigner received the Female Student-Athlete of the Year Award at the 3A level after earning a top 10 finish in the Fayette County Cross Country Championships and earning a spot on the All City Runner first team.

“Charlotte has been a phenomenal runner for the Henry Clay cross country team during her three years,” said head coach Steven K. Riley, who also noted that what truly sets her apart is her academic prowess. “While Charlotte is a great runner, she is an even better student.  She is a member of the liberal arts magnet academy program at Henry Clay.  In order to get into the academy at Henry Clay, a student has to be among the top students in the district, and that certainly describes Charlotte.”

Outside of school and competition, Kessinger is a member of the Leadership Lexington Youth Council and a volunteer with God’s Pantry. During the summer of 2016, she participated in a service trip to Thailand and Laos.

“Gabriella Karas and Charlotte Kessinger are absolute embodiments of what it takes to become a  Midway University/KHSAA Female Student-Athlete of the Year,” said Rusty Kennedy, athletic director at Midway University. “They are both outstanding competitors and students who display sportsmanship and service through their actions.”

About the Midway University/KHSAA Female Student-Athlete of the Year Awards

Nomination Process:

School administrators and/or coaches can nominate any qualified female high school student-athlete. Players can be nominated and win in more than one sport and are eligible to be nominated and win in multiple years of competition.

Judging Criteria

A panel of judges selected by Midway University and the KHSAA will review all nominations and make the selection of each individual sport Female Student-Athlete of the Year. The nominations will be judged on 60 percent weighting of overall athletic achievement, 20 percent academic achievement and 20 percent community service/leadership. In the event of a tie, the judges will have the discretion to select the final winner. Individual winners in each sport will be eligible for the overall Athlete of the Year Award, which will presented in May 2017.

Nominees must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher to qualify and be academically eligible to play in the season in which they are/were nominated.