by Joseph W. Gex II, Staff Writer

Keegan Leverett, a senior at Saint Stanislaus, was named Mississippi’s 2021-22 Gatorade Cross Country Player of the Year on Monday, January 31. He is the first honoree from Saint Stanislaus and Hancock County in the sport of Cross Country.
With the honor, Leverett is now a finalist for the national Gatorade Cross Country Player of the Year which will be selected later in February.
Leverett, a 5’10” 140-lb senior, was Mississippi’s top cross country runner in 2021 regardless of classification.
He led Saint Stanislaus to a Class 3A state runner-up finish with his individual state champion time of 15:45.20 which was the fastest all-class clocking at the state meet in November.
Leverett also won the Mississippi XC Meet of Champions with a time of 15:39.39 and the Watson High School Classic in 15:37.73.
He also recorded the fastest 5K time in 2021 in Mississippi, recorded six times less than 16 minutes, and was the top Mississippi finisher at the national Running Lane XC championships.
Leverett is a four-time All-State cross country honoree and three-time cross country individual state champion.
SSC head cross country coach DP Daigle commented, “Keegan is an extremely hard worker. He is a self starter and has made my job easy over the course of his career. He went out and secured a training program and he would do that program in the morning and then my program in the afternoon. Most days he is up at 5 a.m. running and then running again in the afternoon. He will leave Saint Stanislaus as one of the most highly decorated student athletes to ever graduate from here.”
The Gatorade Player of the Year honor recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the fields of play.
In addition to his cross country accomplishments, Leverett maintains a weighted GPA of 4.5 and is a member of National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Hancock Youth Leadership Academy, Hancock Youth for Positive Effect, the SSC Choir, and is a SSC Student Amabassador.
He also is a member of the two-time state championship soccer team and the track and field team where he won individual state titles in the 1600m and 3200m runs last spring.
The process of selection for the state honoree is conducted by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee which is comprised of coaches, scouts, media, and sport experts.
Gatorade names a Player of the Year in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field.
A National Player of the Year is also selected in each sport. The program began in 1985.