Senior cross country runner recognized with prestigious award

Kelly Cordingley, Editor in Chief

Joining the ranks of famous athletes like Washington Redskins football player Robert Lee Griffin III, senior Colton Donahue was awarded the Gatorade Athlete of the Year in the State of Kansas for cross country. After receiving the State Award, recipients are then qualified to win Gatorade National Player of the Year in their sports. According to, this award is in its third generation and has climbed to the top of prestigious awards for high school athletes. “That’s one of the highest distinctions athletically that you can earn as a high school athlete,” Principal Scott Bacon said. “So, I think certainly he’s considered one of the best in the country.” Donahue is the first athlete in Blue Valley history to receive the award, something Bacon says is a legacy for the school. “It was very exciting,” Bacon said. “I think [Donahue’s] a very worthy recipient, and it was fun to recognize him.” Donahue was awarded the Gatorade Athlete of the Year in Kansas during a school assembly. “I found out the morning of the assembly that we had,” Bacon said. “We wanted to be timely with it and celebrate it with our students. We just made an executive decision — let’s recognize him at the assembly.” During the assembly, the student body rose in applause for Donahue. “I was touched by our students who choose to give him a standing ovation,” Bacon said. Donahue said he attributes his success to the work he put in during his years in cross country. “All my hard work paid off,” Donahue said. “That’s a great feeling.” Bacon said this honor will benefit Donahue in the college selection process. “I’m sure that went into the recruiting process that he’s been a part of,” Bacon said. “I’m sure whoever was recruiting him, when he earned [the award], they probably put another line on his contract that said, ‘We want you’. It probably drove the commitment deeper for many schools.” Bacon said, as he has gotten to know Donahue over the years, he has noticed the character and leadership Donahue exhibits. “As I know him and have gotten to know him over the years, he is a very humble individual and demonstrates tremendous character,” Bacon said. “I think he was a real leader among the cross country team. To see someone who demonstrates those kinds of qualities day in and day out, you want to give them a standing [ovation] because they deserve it.” Donahue said this award has made him feel like an especially elite athlete. “It makes me feel like I’m at a level better than most runners,” he said. “It’s exciting. I’m very happy I won.” Since Donahue received the award, he said his peers have shared in his excitement. “Everyone calls me Gatorade,” he said. “Some people toss bottles at me here and there. My peers have been excited for me for this title.” From academic achievements to athletic recognitions, Bacon said he is proud of what the student body can accomplish. “Anytime that our students are recognized, whether it’s academics, athletics, visual or performing arts, a Pacemaker, whatever it is — it makes me feel good,” Bacon said. “It makes me feel great.” Bacon said he hopes every student has the ability to excel at BV and achieve their dreams. “I think for [Donahue] that was probably a dream come true,” he said. “You can talk about dreams coming true but then there’s the realization of those dreams coming true. When they do come true — for newspaper when they get the Pacemaker Award, for a cross country runner who gets Gatorade Runner of the Year, for a state champ for this group or that group — you can talk about dreams a lot. But when you’re doing it, and they’re happening, that makes it pretty special.”