The Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athletes 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 Track & Field Athlete of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Eric van der Els
School: Brien McMahon (Norwalk, Conn.)
Weight: 120 pounds
Athletic achievement: He won the 1600-meter run with a meet-record time of 4:08.42 at the State Open championships this past season. Also the state’s Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, van der Els also won the 1600 at the Class LL state meet this spring as well as the New England Championships. His season-best time of 8:50.53 in the 3200-meter run ranked as the nation’s No. 7 clocking among prep competitors in 2016 at the time of his selection. He also earned a national championship in the 5000-meter run at the New Balance Nationals Indoor this past winter.
Academic excellence: Van der Els has maintained a 3.11 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 sets his goals and sticks to them, and his competitive spirit is always in him, even when people aren’t watching,” said Brien McMahon coach Patrick Bradley. “Timing him and watching him do workouts is sometimes more exciting than the race itself. He has been a great leader for our team and never lost sight that this is a team sport.”
THE FUTURE: Van der Els has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on an athletic scholarship at the University of Connecticut this fall.