East High’s Gatorade Cross Country Athlete of the Year

Freshman Phenom Berlyn Schutz the first Spartan to claim the Nebraska Cross Country Gatorade Player of the Year


Berlyn Schutz competing in the Girls Class A state meet in November of this past year.

There’s a Freshman in Lincoln, Nebraska that has been running for as long as she can remember. She goes to Lincoln East High School, and she helped the cross country team capture their second straight state title this past fall. She is the Nebraska Girls Cross Country Gatorade Player of the Year. She is Berlyn Schutz.

The Gatorade Player of the Year award is one of the most prestigious awards given to high school athletes. There are 51 awards given out annually for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Winners are given a $1,000 grant to give to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing in addition to the honor.

In part what makes Berlyn’s accomplishment such an impressive feat is the fact that she is 1 of only 8 freshman in the entire country to win the award this year.

Schutz’s accolades are adding up as she fells school records after just her first year in high school. She was named the captain of the Lincoln Journal Star All City Cross Country team, and she won all 7 of her regular season races before losing by .4 seconds at the Class A State Championships. Schutz was also the top Nebraska finisher at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regionals, running her PR (personal record) of 17:57, good for 11th place.

When I interviewed the Super State Freshman, I started off by asking her where and what she did when she found out that she’d shed won the Gatorade Player of the Year. “I found out I won when my dad texted me as I was walking up from the lot to school with my sister. It’s cool seeing that only 50 other girls who ran high school cross country this year got this award alongside me.” I then asked her how winning the award would help to push her to become a better athlete, and person. “It shows me what can happen when you do good things for your community, and how rewarding even the little things can be.” Schutz volunteers at a local soup kitchen, and also volunteers some of her time as a Running Coach as well.

Berlyn Schutz has the chance to become one of the most decorated runners in the state by the time she is a senior. She will have three more seasons with chances to repeat as the Gatorade Runner of the Year along with more chances at All State, and Conference awards. Berlyn will look to build onto the award as this could be just the beginning of a historic career.