Utah County has a reputation as a great cross country training ground.

That reputation grew in a big way on Tuesday when Timpview’s Aidan Troutner earned the Gatorade National Cross Country Runner of the Year award, the second straight year the winner has come from Utah County. Last season, American Fork’s Casey Clinger won the award.

Troutner and Clinger will be BYU teammates at some point. Clinger competed for the Cougars this season and Troutner has already signed with BYU, set to begin running in two years after serving an LDS mission.

“I know Casey really well,” Troutner said. “We’re really good friends. I’ve talked to a lot of people about how incredible it is that just in Utah County alone there are all these great runners. There’s something about the culture here that fosters an environment where people can have great success in running. It’s really something special and I’m glad to bring it home again for Utah County.”

Troutner had a spectacular finish to his senior cross country season that began with a win at the Utah state finals in Sugarhouse. He won the 5A title in a time of 14:48.8, nearly 10 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. He then competed in the NXN Southwest Regional in Arizona, winning that race in 14:50 and qualifying for the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore.

“I flew under the radar during the season, so up to that point, I felt like a lot of people hadn’t really heard of me,” Troutner said. “It was up to me to make sure that they did at that race.”

With a strong finish, Troutner was first to break the tape in a time of 15:03.9.

“I just barely missed qualifying my junior year so that gave me a lot of motivation to qualify for senior year and do really well,” Troutner said. “Two weeks later, I was competing against the best of the best for the national championship. I was able to have a big kick in the last 400 meters to overtake the lead and win the title. It was an incredible experience, not just the race but the atmosphere was awesome. I got to meet professional runners and walk around the Nike campus. To talk to other guys who share the love of the sport I love to do, that experience was amazing.”

The Gatorade awards ceremony was held on Tuesday at Troutner’s home, which is within walking distance of Timpview High School. Family, friends and teammates greeted Troutner when he came home for lunch. There will be an assembly at Timpview to honor Troutner on Wednesday. National Gatorade award winners will be invited to a special ceremony at the ESPY Awards in July.

“It’s cool to be able to have all of these opportunities come from running,” Troutner said.

Troutner said he runs six days a week and takes Sunday off, which allows him to rest and practice his faith.

“A lot of people think it might be a disadvantage to take Sunday off,” Troutner said. “We’re promised if we rest and worship on Sunday there are certain blessings that come with that. I’ve seen that firsthand in my life. I’ve always known I was going on a mission. BYU does a great job of helping rehabilitate returned missionaries. They’ve done this process so many years, they have it down to a science. Coach (Ed) Eyestone is great, so I’m not worried about any problems from my mission. When I come back home it’ll be back to the grind.”

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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