Sam Rich, shown here winning his second state title, won his second consecutive Gatorade award in his prep career.

For the second consecutive year, Catawba Ridge’s Sam Rich has won the Gatorade South Carolina Boys Cross-Country Player of the Year awards.

Rich won the award Monday as Gatorade made the announcement and contacted him via e-mail. Coming off his second consecutive 4A state cross country individual title, Rich said he felt like he was in the running for the award again.

“I really thought I had a good season and had a chance to win it,” he said.

Besides the state title he won in 15.20 this past November, Rich, who has signed to run both cross-country and track at the University of Notre Dame, also won the Southern Showcase, the Great American Cross-Country Festival and the Bob Jenkins Coaches Classic, just to name a few. At the Southern Showcase, his time of 14:38 was a personal best and also set the record for the fastest time in the country at the time.

As a two-time winner of the state award, he joins a small list of three other cross-country runners who have won the state award twice. He is now in the running to win the national award for the sport.

“I am super excited about it,” he said. “It is an honor to be in contention for the award.”

The national award will be announced in February. Rich is currently preparing for his senior season in track and is a defending state champ in both the one-mile and two-mile events.

“Sam is a true student of the sport,” said David Helms, Catawba Ridge head track and cross-country coach. “He is consistently analyzing situations, courses, opponents and his own training to become the best athlete he can be. He is a true talent, but an even better human being. ”

Rich has maintained a 4.0 GPA during his time in school and is also active in his church at Unity Presbyterian, where his father is the pastor.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep