AMERICAN FORK, Utah, Feb. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In its 38th year of honoring the nation’s most elite high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Daniel Simmons of American Fork High School in American Fork, Utah is the 2022-23 Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year. Simmons won the prestigious award for his accomplishments on and off the field, joining an impressive group of former Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Players of the Year who have combined for more than 19 National Championships.
Simmons was surprised with the award by his family, coaches and teammates at practice, and former Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year Casey Clinger presented Simmons with the trophy. Check out a video of the announcement here.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes athletes not just for their excellence on the playing surface, but for their commitment in the classroom and impact in their community. Simmons beat out nearly 300,000 other student-athletes who compete in boys cross country nationwide, topping the list of state winners in boys cross country who collectively boast an incredible list of accomplishments, including 28 with signed National Letters of Intent to run cross country at Division I colleges/universities and 28 with a GPA of 4.0 and above.
“At just 5-foot-8, Daniel Simmons doesn’t carry the physical stature we see in most elite distance talents, but despite his shorter stride length, Simmons’ physiological gifts and fluidly relaxed gait delivered a season for the ages,” said Rich Gonzalez, PrepCalTrack editor. “The American Fork junior broke course records in his final six races last fall, vanquishing an unprecedented slate of elite challengers made up of national record-holders and multiple sub-4 milers to take silver at Nike Cross Nationals. That capped a 2022 campaign during which he slugged it out in the nation’s most competitive state and prep cross country’s toughest region. This fall, he’ll aim to become the first prep boy to repeat as Gatorade National Player of the Year since Michigan’s Grant Fisher from 2013-15.”
The 5-foot-8, 125-pound junior raced to All-America honors by placing second at Nike Cross Nationals in a time of 14:51.7 this past season, anchoring the Cavemen to a fifth-place finish as a team. Simmons also broke the tape at the Nike Cross Southwest Regionals, clocking a 14:44.80 to win by more than 10 seconds and lead his team to the regional crown. He eclipsed the course record in each of his final six races last fall and won the Class 6A individual state championship, pacing American Fork to the team title.
He has volunteered locally through church service projects benefiting the elderly and the homeless and is also an accomplished actor and singer.
Simmons has maintained a 3.98 GPA in the classroom. He will begin his senior year of high school this fall.
In addition to excellence on and off the field of play, Gatorade Players of the Year also pay it forward for the next generation. As part of Gatorade’s Play it Forward initiative, Simmons will receive a grant to give to a 501c3 youth sports charity, which includes Gatorade’s social impact partners – Athlete Ally, Laureus USA, Move United, Women’s Sports Foundation and Up2Us Sports – supporting Gatorade’s ambition to fuel the future of sport.
“The Gatorade Player of the Year award celebrates athletes like Daniel who make an impact not just on the field of play, but in their communities,” said Gatorade president and general manager Michael Del Pozzo. “We are proud advocates for the lifelong benefits that come with playing high school sports and look forward to seeing what Daniel will accomplish in the future.”
Each year, a selection committee evaluates the nation’s top talent to choose one state winner from each of the 50 states as well as Washington D.C., in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track & field. In all, 608 athletes are honored each year. From the pool of state winners, one national winner is selected in each of the 12 sports.
To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com or follow us on social media on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY, Instagram at instagram.com/Gatorade and Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade.
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SOURCE The Gatorade Company