GATORADE® NATIONAL BOYS CROSS COUNTRY RUNNER OF THE YEAR: Edward Cheserek
Professional Distance Runner Dathan Ritzenhein Surprises Standout with Elite Honor
Newark (Jan 23, 2013) - In its 28th year of honoring the nation's best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Edward Cheserek of St. Benedicts Preparatory School (Newark, N.J.) as its 2012-13 Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. Cheserek was surprised with the news at school by Dathan Ritzenhein, who earned Gatorade Michigan Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year honors in 1999-00 and 2000-01.
"When I received the award, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to surprise Edward with the news and invite him into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Dathan Ritzenhein, the former American record-holder at 5,000 meters. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse, distinguishes Cheserek as the nation's best high school boys cross country runner.
A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Cheserek from nearly 250,000 high school boys cross country runners nationwide. Cheserek is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.
The 5-foot-8 senior won his second consecutive national title this past season at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, with a time of 14:59. Cheserek also won the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championship in 15:21.8, and earned victories at the Essex County Championships, the Prep A state championships and the Eastern States race at the Manhattan Invitational.
Cheserek has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of a community soup kitchen.
"Edward has broken every record around, beating times set by guys who have been in the Olympics," said St. Benedict's coach Marty Hannon. "What he's accomplished is amazing. It's been like a dream come true. I hate to put a burden on kids, but the sky is really the limit for him."
Cheserek remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
"Without question, Edward is deserving of recognition as the nation's best high school boys cross country runner based on his statistics on the course and the impact his accomplishments have had on St. Benedict's success," said
Morgan Flatley. "But he is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young athletes of what a leader and a student-athlete should be. He represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient."
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.
The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie
NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith
American Mile Record-holder Alan Webb
For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information, a complete list of former winners, and future announcement dates, visit the Gatorade Player of the Year Web site at http://www.gatorade.com/poy, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.
To see the state by state winners, please visit: http://www.gatorade.com/poy/winners.aspx?sportcode=BC