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Pinecrest senior Carmen Alder closes in on the finish line during the Sandhills Athletic Conference cross country championship meet this season. Alder earned her fourth individual conference title at the meet and earned her third straight Gatorade State Runner of the Year honors this week.

After winning her third individual state title in January, Pinecrest's Carmen Alder picked up her third straight prestigious statewide award this week.

The Pinecrest distance specialist earned her third N.C. Gatorade Female Runner of the Year award when the organization announced its statewide winners.

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 Alder as North Carolina’s best high school girls cross country player, a press release from Gatorade said. She is a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year award to be announced in April.

Alder helped the Patriots to their 29th straight Sandhills Athletic Conference title this past season and a seventh-place finish at the state meet, where she captured a third consecutive individual championship by breaking the tape in 17:47.30, making her the fifth girl in state history to three-peat at states, Alder clocked North Carolina’s fastest girls 5K time—and the only mark under 17 minutes—with a 16:58.90 back in September.

A four-time All-State selection in cross country, Alder now owns 11 individual state titles between cross country and track and field.

She was unbeaten against in-state competition in 2020 and took fifth at the National XC Town USA Meet of Champions to earn First-Team All-American status. She finished 11th nationally in the final 2020 MileSplit50 girls cross country rankings, and her state meet speed rating according to Dyestat and TullyRunners.com ranked No. 10 nationally. Both of her parents ran competitively at Brigham Young University and her mother, Janeth Alder (née Caizalitin), competed in the women’s 3,000-meter event for Ecuador at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona.

As President of her local Venture Crew youth service chapter, Alder has donated her time to multiple community service projects, including the beautification of Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve and an equine-assisted therapy program for military veterans. An active member of her church community, she has volunteered on behalf of special needs peers, a summer camp and the Special Olympics Moore County Spring Games.

“Carmen has proven herself as one of the most decorated distance talents in North Carolina history,” said Erik Boal, an editor at Dyestat.com. “She was 2.4 seconds off medal pace at the national USA Meet of Champions, then won her next six races to grab a third state title.”

Alder has maintained a 3.79 weighted GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at BYU this fall.

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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