A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year selection process, resulting in winners based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2012 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For his 50 fellow Gatorade State Boys Track & Field Athletes of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Joe Velez
School: Classical (Providence, R.I.)
Weight: 185 pounds
Athletic achievement: Velez won the hammer throw with a mark of 219 feet, 11 inches at the All-State Meet this spring, leading the Purple to a fifth-place finish as a team. He also placed second in the shot put (55-7) and the discus (151-7). Velez launched the hammer 207-3 to win the event at this month’s New Balance Nationals Outdoor championships, while his season-best of 224-1 in the event ranked as the No. 2 performance by prep competitors in 2012 at the time of his selection.
Academic excellence: Velez has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A member of Classical High’s student senate, he has volunteered locally as a peer tutor and youth basketball and track coach.
“I got to watch Joe in practice every day this season. He is a hard-worker and really dedicated to his craft,” said Nick Palazzo, assistant coach at Hope (Providence, R.I.). “He is always working with the different weights to make himself a better thrower. And his numbers, including winning the national championship, just speak for themselves.”
THE FUTURE: Velez has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at Ohio State University beginning this fall.