John Curtis’ Devyn Keith again named Louisiana Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year _lowres

Advocate file photo by JOHN OUBRE John Curtis runner Devyn Keith leads other runners up a hill Sept. 13 at Highland Road Park in Baton Rouge during Episcopal's Round Table Run. Keith captured first place in the varsity boys division.

Preston Curtis calls Devyn Keith one of the most competitive athletes he’s coached.

That competitiveness helped Keith win his third straight cross country state championship last fall.

It also led to Keith, a senior at John Curtis, being named Louisiana’s Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year for the second consecutive year.

“It probably feels better the first time around, but winning it again is definitely an honor,” Keith said.

Keith won the honor after winning the Class 5A championship. He won Class 3A titles as a sophomore and junior. He won the 5A crown with a time of 16 minutes, 8.90 seconds (16:08.90) and led the Patriots to second place as a team.

The Tulane signee also finished second at the Nike Cross Nationals South Regional championships in 17:10.10, and then finished 84th at the NXN Final in 16:05.10.

His best time of the season was his personal best of 14:30.72 at the St. Joseph’s Invitational in Baton Rouge. The time broke a 22-year-old Highland Park course record by nearly 22 seconds.

“When it’s on the line in big races, he always has a little something extra,” Curtis said. “And when he doesn’t do his best, he is always motivated to get back out there. When it’s time to compete, he knows it’s time to compete.”

And when it’s time to perform in the classroom, he’s up to the task there as well, even after a grueling day of practice. The Gatorade award not only recognizes success in athletics, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character.

Keith has maintained a 3.22 GPA in the classroom. A member of his school’s student council, spirit club and poetry club as well as a columnist for the student newspaper, Keith has volunteered as a youth running instructor, as part of Rotary International’s Interact club and on behalf of his church.

“There are definitely moments where I get home and don’t want to do a thing but take a shower and go to sleep,” Keith said. “It can be challenging.

“Not finding the time isn’t the hard part, but more just finding the self control to actually go and do the work itself.”

Keith is one of just two athletes from Curtis to win the Gatorade Award twice. Former Patriots softball standout Ashley Brignac also won the award back-to-back in 2006 and 2007. Keith is one of seven Curtis athletes to win the Gatorade award.

“He really has taken the John Curtis team to a whole different level of competition,” said Miguel Becerra, head coach at St. Thomas Aquinas.

“He is a great kid. He’s very respectful, and the younger kids really look up to him as well.”

Keith will finish out his high school career trying to win state championships in indoor and outdoor track.

“Honestly, I just want to finish out my high school career strong,” Keith said. “I don’t want to have any drawbacks like injuries. I’m not thinking as much about times, but more thinking more about training and getting ready for college.”