'It Was So Surreal' Addy Ritzenhein Wins Gatorade POY

* Addison Ritzenhein holds the Gatorade POY trophy on Tuesday

Photo Credit: Joe Greer/Gatorade

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Addison Ritzenhein's sophomore season had good vibes all around. 

On Tuesday, Gatorade awarded the Niwot High School sophomore for her merits over the cross country campaign, naming her its National Girls Player of the Year. 

She became the third Colorado runner since 2007 to win the award, joining the likes of Brie Oakley in 2016 and Katie Rainsberger in 2015. 

"It was so surreal," Ritzenhein told MileSplit. "It was surreal. Everyone was cheering me on. I didn't know what it was at first when everyone came up to me. When I saw Katelyn Tuohy with the trophy, I was like 'Oh! The Gatorade Athlete Of The Year award!"

Naturally, it was a big moment for her.

"I didn't really think about [winning Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player Of The Year] that much," she said. "After NXN, I just focused on that race and I didn't think about a bigger award than that."

* Addy Ritzenhein and Katelyn Tuohy share their thoughts about the Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player Of The Year award

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This season, Ritzenhein, the daughter of former 5K American record-holder, two-time Gatorade Michigan Boys Track and Field Athlete Of The Year (1999-2001) and Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, ended her second high school season with a 16:44 5K personal best, and national title at Nike Cross Nationals. 

Ritzenhein was also named MileSplit's Athlete Of The Year for cross country won her Colorado Class 4A state title in a state record time of 17:08.

Her only loss of the season was at the NXR Southwest Regional meet where she finished third.

But she was able to bounce back and take down a loaded field at NXN in 17:10 while she led her team to a second-place team finish. 

* Addy Ritzenhein and Katelyn Tuohy pose on Tuesday 

Photo Credit: Joe Greer / Gatorade

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Ritzenhein said Tuesday she didn't wake up thinking the day would be something special. 

While she was doing worksheets in her Spanish class, she said her coach walked in and had her excused from class so she could do an exclusive interview with the local media for being named the Gatorade Colorado Player Of The Year.

As Ritzenhein walked towards the track, she was greeted by her Niwot (CO) teammates, coaches, friends, family and Tuohy, the three-time Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player Of The Year. 

"I won this award in high school so it was cool to pass the torch to Addy and see her career start," Tuohy told MileSplit. "It's going to be a cool journey now that she's a part of the Gatorade family." 

Ritzenehin will join the likes of Tuohy, Irene Riggs, Natalie Cook, Jordan Hassey and Brie Oakley when it comes to earning this prestigious award. 

Looking ahead, Ritzenehin said she will compete once during the indoor season at Nike Indoor Nationals before she focuses 100-percent of her attention on the outdoor season.

As a freshman, she finished third at indoor nationals in the two-mile with a lifetime best of 10:21.03. In the meantime, Ritzenhein is enjoying the moment and looking forward to the outdoor season. 

"I plan on having a lot of fun," Ritzenhein said. "Not setting the bar too high. I do have some goals but I like to keep them to myself for now."

While being a member of the Niwot High School Leadership Academy and a student aide at her school, Ritzenhein is also a member of her school's choir and volunteers locally on behalf of REAL Training Youth Running Club and the concessions booth for the school's boosters. She maintains a 4.33 weighted GPA. 

* Addison Ritzenhein reflects on her first NXN title in December

Gatorade National Cross Country Player Of The Year Winners Since 2007

* Addy Ritzenhein celebrates winning the Nike Cross National title in Portland, Oregon

Photo Credit: Bobby Reyes/MileSplit

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