Jan. 26—Coming off a dominant season this past fall in which he led the Grace Christian School boys cross-country team to a fifth straight title at the Division II Alaska state championship, junior Robbie Annett became the third athlete in program history to be named Gatorade Alaska Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year on Monday.
"It feels great because I was kind of not expecting to get it but I'm super glad that I did," he said. "Both of the other guys who won (state titles) were also super good runners. I never thought I could be as fast as those guys but here I am."
Annett had been keeping up with the countdown to the announcement and was elated when he refreshed it on Friday morning and saw his name on the website as the Last Frontier's honoree.
His selection marks the second year in a row that a Grizzly received the award after David Sliwinski was the 2022-2023 winner as a senior.
"I was not expecting to get it just because I wasn't sure if they'd give it to the same school in back-to-back years," Annett said.
At the start of the season, he wasn't thinking that receiving this award would be an achievable goal but once he started winning more races, the thought began to cross his mind.
"Toward the end of the year, I started looking forward to it," Annett said. "I've seen the banners in the gym and I've wanted to win it for a while but I never imagined that I'd get here so I'm super grateful."
[Staying humble, Grace Christian's Robbie Annett is leading the pack in cross-country running]
The award acknowledges a student-athlete for their exemplary character displayed on and off the trails, exceptional academic rigor as well as outstanding athletic achievements.
He has also maintained a 3.04 GPA and has volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach at the Downtown Hope Center in Anchorage.
"I wouldn't be able to do this without Jesus Christ so he's the main reason," Annett said. "Helping out in the community is very important to me and being a student before an athlete is also super important."
The 6-foot-1, 145-pound junior won the Division II state meet this past season with a time of 16:39.06, breaking the tape 3.18 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor and leading the Grizzlies to the team title. Annett won 10 of the 11 races he entered and was named the state's DII Most Valuable Runner. He also won two individual state titles last spring for the Grace Christian track and field team and was a member of the school's state championship basketball team last winter.
"Robbie set the standard for effort level during every practice," Grace Christian head coach Tara Edwards said in a statement. "He has obviously contributed to the team through his top performances, but even more importantly, he has made significant contributions through his natural leadership."
[Chugiak girls, South boys and Palmer's Fischer Adams take state cross country titles]
Annett believes that this honor is a testament to all the hard work that he put in over the course of the season and wants to continue building off that momentum heading into the spring and his senior season this fall.
"I'm looking forward to getting another (title) next year and hopefully a couple more in track," Annett said.