High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Classical

Rhode Island Boys Track AOY: Joe Velez

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
5:11
AM ET
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

THE BASICS

School: Classical (Providence, R.I.)
Grade: Senior
Event(s): Throws
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 185 pounds

THE PILLARS

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.

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Rhode Island Girls Track AOY: Maddy Berkson

June, 20, 2012
6/20/12
5:11
AM ET
A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade State Girls 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 her 50 fellow Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year winners, click here.


THE WINNER: Maddy Berkson

THE BASICS

School: Classical (Providence, R.I.)
Grade: Sophomore
Event(s): Distance/middle-distance
Height: 5-foot-4

THE PILLARS

Athletic achievement: Berkson set a state record in the 1,500 meters at the All-State meet, leading the Purple to a third-place finish as a team. She won the 1,500 with a time of 4:27.92, a time which ranked No. 13 in the nation by prep competitors in 2012 at the time of her selection. Berkson also ran the anchor leg for Classical’s winning 4x400-meter relay team. The Rhode Island Track Coaches Association State MVP, she placed second in the 800-meter run at both the All-State Meet and the New England Outdoor Championships.

Academic excellence: Berkson has maintained an unweighted 4.12 GPA in the classroom.

Exemplary character: She is a member of Classical High’s Debate Club and Chess Club.

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