The Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runners of the Year were selected based on athletic production and impact in the 2015-16 season. Each winner also demonstrated high academic achievement and exemplary personal character, including volunteerism, sportsmanship and community leadership.
For the complete list of Gatorade State Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Eric van der Els
School: Brien McMahon (Norwalk, Conn.)
Position: Distance Runner
Weight: 120 pounds
Athletic achievement: He raced to the State Open individual championship this past season with a time of 15:47. Van der Els also won the Class LL state championship in 15:52 and finished third at the New England Cross Country Championships. He crossed the line fifth at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships and placed 18th at the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
Academic excellence: Van der Els has maintained a 3.12 GPA.
Exemplary character: He has served as a summer camp counselor and has volunteered on behalf of the Pura Vida club, which helps feed disadvantaged children internationally.
“Eric has made coaching very easy,” said Brien McMahon coach Patrick Bradley. “He respects and follows his coaches’ game plan, and as a captain, he’s a natural leader both in voice and in work ethic.”
THE FUTURE: Van der Els has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on an athletic scholarship at the University of Connecticut beginning this fall.