By Monty Campbell
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – Copperas Cove High School has had a rich tradition of producing many of the best athletes in the state, such as former Lady Dawg basketball players Lejuana Hardemon and Shereka Wright.
Hardemon and Wright each received the honor of Gatorade Texas Girls Basketball Athlete of the year in 1987-88 and 1999-00 respectively and Friday afternoon were joined by one more current Bulldawg – Robert Griffin, III.
Wright took the award to another level as she captured the Gatorade National Girls Basketball Athlete of the Year in 1999-00.
In its third decade of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, Gatorade Thirst Quencher announced Griffin as its 2006-07 Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program recognizes one winner in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in football, girls volleyball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field.
The selection process is administered by RISE magazine, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
"(Griffin) One of the hardest working track athletes that I've ever seen," Copperas Cove head track and field coach Tracy Ranes said. "He's the type of kid you want to have because he raises the level of the other kids around him. He makes others want to work harder."
Upon learning of the honor that was bestowed upon him, Griffin found himself at a loss for words.
"I am kind of shocked right now, but happy about it. I worked really hard this year and it goes to show that the hard work paid off," Griffin said. "I just want to thank God for blessing me with the abilities and to thank my father for working with me all of these years. Without his help, I don't think I would be where I am today."
Gatorade combined forces with RISE magazine to name State Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award winners representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
State winners are selected not only for their outstanding athletic performance, but also for meeting high academic-achievement standards, while demonstrating exemplary personal character on and off the track.
Griffin has maintained a B' average in the classroom and is actively involved in his church youth group and serves as an enthusiastic volunteer on behalf of multiple area community-service initiatives.
Griffin, along with his fellow State Athletes of the Year, is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced later this month.
The Copperas Cove phenom reached the pinnacle of his high school track and field career in early May by helping his team capture the first boys state championship in school history.
He led the Dawgs with gold medal and record setting performances in the 110-meter hurdles (13.55 seconds), 300-meter hurdles (35.33) and anchored the 1,600-meter relay team to a silver medal.
His record-setting performance was not any aberration as he has continued to be consistent throughout the season.
Griffin has consistently been the one of the best hurdlers in the nation, owning four of the fastest eight times in the country this season in the 300 hurdles and five of the fastest 10 times in the 110-meter hurdles.
"Robert's commitment, dedication, research and hard-nosed training is the cornerstone to his success," Griffin's father and summer track coach, Robert Griffin, Jr. said. "He has sacrificed his free time to continue bettering his performance."
Griffin has the opportunity to excel when he travels to his next meet at Disneyworld in Central Florida, in the first week of July.
Contact Monty Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 547-9173.