Earning the high honor for a second straight year, Peabody High's Catarina Rocha was named the Gatorade Runner of the Year for girls' cross country in Massachusetts.
The prestigious award, which is in its 28th year, is given to a top athlete from each state across 12 varsity sports.
Rocha, a 5-foot-4 senior, is wrapping up her high school career with high marks -- she finished 2nd in the Foot Locker Nationals last month, won the Northeast Regional race before that and won her second straight cross country state title.
She also led her fellow Tanners to a Division I team state title, is a member of the National Honor Society, volunteers locally and an "A" student in the classroom.
“Catarina Rocha is an exceptional runner,” said Lisa Owen, head coach at Acton-Boxborough High in an announcement from Gatorade. “She is the best I have seen in the state in a long time. No one else comes close.”
Gatorade says the award recognizes athletic and academic excellence, and "exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse." Rocha is also a finalist for Gatorade's national runner of the year award, which will be announced later this month.
Dad Joe Rocha, also his daughter's coach in cross country and track, says she has verbally committed to attend Providence College this coming fall on an athletic scholarship.
Other past Peabody recipients of the Gatorade award are , Ryan Moorer (2004, Baseball), Jeff Allison (2003, Baseball), St. John's Prep alum Matt Antonelli (2003, Football) and Bishop Fenwick alum Casey Arena (1992, Boys' Basketball).