AZTEC — For three years, Aztec's Sarah Root has been winning state titles in track and field.
But this past season was the junior's best. Root contributed two individual championships to Aztec's second straight girls 4A track and field title.
Root coupled being the co-top point scoring athlete at the state meet with a solid season on the soccer field, earning her The Daily Times 2013-2014 Female Athlete of the Year award.
"There is a lot of strong competition around here," Root said. "It's just amazing that I'm able to get that."
Root set school records in the triple jump, 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles this past season, eventually winning the triple jump and 100-meter hurdles state title.
This was the third straight year that Root won the triple jump event, while the 100-meter hurdle title was her second in a row.
"It's just great to go out there and run and put my heart into all that I do," she said.
Aztec girls track coach Anna Strauss said Root's drive to improve in the events is what makes her such an important part of the Lady Tigers' program.
"She was invaluable. When she steps on that track, she's ready to compete," Strauss said. "She's just a good, hard-working, genuine person. She's deserving of this award. There's a lot of good athletes in this county, and I'm proud she gets to represent us."
Strauss is already looking forward to next season to see what Root can accomplish her senior year.
"I'm excited. She's going to do some great things and just get better," she said.
On top of her track exploits, Root was an important part of the Aztec soccer team's defensive line.
Root was an all-state honorable mention as a defender, helping the Lady Tigers give up just 16 goals in 23 matches this season.
Girls soccer head coach Stephen Parks said Root's athletic ability, as well as a good understanding of the game, makes her a valuable asset.
"She's quick and has speed. She's also smart with the ball and knows what to do with it," Parks said. "She's got a good head on her shoulders."
Parks felt Root's play during the year deserved more than just an honorable mention spot and believes she's capable of being a first-team all-state defender next season.
"My opinion is we get overlooked at times because we're not in Albuquerque," Parks said. "That goes for all the teams in the Four Corners, not just us."
Root, who chipped in with three goals from the backline this year, said the Lady Tigers' loss to St. Pius X in the title game will have the team motivated going into next year.
"After losing the last two, we're hoping to go back and win it next year," she said.
Parks expects Root to play a bigger part in the Aztec soccer team next season.
"She's going to be one of our anchors back there, along with Rikki Newland," Parks said. "We're hoping she'll be able to mentor some of the younger players."
Root said her two sports go hand-in-hand with each other, and the balance they provide allows her to be successful in both.
"I just love both sports," Root said. "Obviously, both involve running a lot, but I like the team aspect and doing what I love to do."