North Central senior Justin Janke is the Gatorade cross country runner of the year for Washington. (Jesse Tinsley)
Justin Janke is back on the top step of the podium.
North Central’s senior distance running standout and State 3A champion has been named the 2015-16 Gatorade Washington Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Janke, who led the Indians to a record 10th straight State 3A team title, is the fourth NC runner to receive the honor in the last seven years and the third straight, following Tanner Anderson (2014-15), Kai Wilmot (2013-14) and Andrew Kimpel (2008-09).
Besides the State 3A title, the 6-foot, 150-pound Janke also won the Nike Border Clash, and the Tracy Walters and Richland invitationals. He placed sixth at the Nike Cross Nationals Northwest Regionals, seventh at the Foot Locker West Regionals and 25th at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
“Justin is the product of hard work,” NC coach Jon Knight is quoted as saying in the release announcing Janke’s award. “He’s a lunch-pail kind of kid. He saw what he had to do and he sculpted himself into the runner he became.”
The award not only recognizes athletic accomplishment but also academic achievement and character on and off the racecourse. Janke, who has a 4.0 GPA, is a talented artist and saxophonist and has volunteered locally on behalf of Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant and Community Kitchen, and environmental conservation efforts.
He is a finalist for the Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year to be announced later this month.
Besides the four from NC, three other Greater Spokane League runners have received the Gatorade state award since its inception in 2007 – Andrew Gardner, Mead, 2012-13; Nathan Weitz, Shadle Park, 2011-12; and Kenji Bierig, Lewis and Clark, 2010-11.