DRACUT -- Karina Shepard, a senior-to-be at Dracut High School, was named the Gatorade Athlete of the Year for girls track in Massachusetts.

Shepard becomes a finalist for the national award which will be announced later this year.

Shepard won the All-State title in the 800 meters (2:09.29) earlier this year and was second in the New England Championships (2:08.05).

She also has maintained a 4.53 weighted GPA in the classroom and is a member of the National Honor Society and an active local volunteer.

"Karina's understanding of what it takes to achieve a high level of success is what distinguishes her from the competition," said Dracut coach Erik Taber. "Two years ago, she would have never believed that she could have achieved what she has. She has worked incredibly hard to work her way from the bottom of a varsity lineup to All-State champion in just two years. After all of her success, she still believes she is capable of more."

The Dracut High girls 4x800 meter relay team finished in 12th place at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals here last weekend, posting the fastest time of the year by a Massachusetts school.

The foursome of junior Kaylee Shepard, senior Becky Colfer, sophomore Katie Colfer and junior Karina Shepard came home in 9:18.56.

In addition, Karina Shepard finished seventh in the 800 meters with a time of 2:09.54.