AMERICAN FORK, Utah (ABC4) — Gatorade named American Fork High School junior Daniel Simmons the National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year, according to a press release.
The Gatorade Player of the Year recognizes rising athletes for their accomplishments both within their sports and in areas outside of it, including academics and service.
Some of Simmons’ Cross Country accomplishments include placing second at the Nike Cross Nationals event, winning first at the Nike Cross Southwest Regionals and breaking course records for his final six races of the season, the release said.
“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.
In addition to his exceptional running, Simmons has volunteered in his local church, has a 3.98 GPA and is a singer and actor.
Simmons was surprised with the award surrounded by his family and teammates at practice. The former Boys Cross Country Player of the Year, and Simmons’ biggest inspiration, Casey Clinger, presented him with the trophy.
“To be named Gatorade Cross Country Player of the Year means so much to me, I wasn’t expecting this,” Simmons said. “Seeing all these people up here, I just felt so loved.”
Gatorade awards are presented annually to one winner in every state. A committee selects an athlete in 12 sports, making for 608 awarded athletes each year, according to the press release.
“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,” Gatorade President and General Manager Michael Del Pozzo said. “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.”