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Two Oklahoma Athletes Show the Power in Giving Back

Here's some good news for you!

Two amazing Oklahoma cross country athletes have been named Gatorade Players of the Year - Payton Hinkle from Broken Arrow High School and Gabe Simonsen from Mustang High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes these individuals as Oklahoma’s best high school cross country runners. We are so proud of Payton and Gabe for their hard work this season - they are great examples of how sports can enrich someone's life as well as inspire giving back to the community!

Payton Hinkle is a sophomore at Broken Arrow High School. She won the Class 6A state meet this past season with a time of 18:03.44, breaking the tape 27.25 seconds ahead of her next-closest competitor. Hinkle also won the Missouri Southern Stampede and she ran against the boys in the Oklahoma Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Meet of Champions, finishing 53rd with a time that would have won the girls race that same day by more than a minute. She was the 2019 The Oklahoman AllCity Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Gabe Simonsen is a junior at Mustang High School who won the Class 6A state meet this past season with a time of 15:39.89, breaking the tape 22.64 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor and leading the Broncos to a fourth-place finish as a team. Simonsen took 18th at the Nike Cross Nationals South Regional championships and crossed the line 35th at the Foot Locker South Regional championships.

As part of the award, Payton and Gabe were each able to choose a local or national youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant from Gatorade through the brand’s Play It Forward program. We are so thankful they both selected Cleats for Kids! Their generosity will ensure that more kids in Oklahoma are able to access the life-changing power of sports!

Gatorade’s Play It Forward initiative empowers all 607 Gatorade Player of the Year recipients to award a $1,000 grant from Gatorade to a community organization that helps next generation of athletes benefit from sports. This generous grant will go directly to C4K programming that gets more kids involved in sports by providing the equipment needed to participate in sports free of charge.