St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.) senior distance runner Edward Cheserek was named the 2012-13 Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year this morning.
American distance-running star Dathan Ritzenhein delivered the news in a surprise visit to St. Benedict’s.
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The 5-foot-8, 125-pound Cheserek won his second consectuive title at the Foot Locker National Championships this past fall, joining Ritzenhein as the only other runner to win two Foot Locker titles in less than 15 minutes. Cheserek became only the fourth repeat champion in the Foot Locker National Championships’ 34-year history.
Cheserek won the last13 high school cross country races of his career dating back to his sophomore season, establishing course records in nine of those victories.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the course. A native of Kenya, Cheserekis now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award.
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“Edward Cheserek left no doubt who was the best boys’ harrier this fall,” said Steve Underwood, DyeStat editor for Runnerspace.com. “Since the turn of the century, we’ve seen some of the greatest harriers in prep history—Dathan Ritzenhein, Lukas Verzbicas and others — and Cheserek deserves to be mentioned with all of them.”
As a junior, Cheserek became the first high schooler to run a sub-12:00 at New York’s 2.5-mile Van Cortlandt Park course. His time of 11:55.4 was 27 seconds faster than Alberto Salazar ran as a high schooler, 28 seconds faster than Marty Liquori and 23 seconds faster than 2001 Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year Alan Webb. All three runners went on to make the Olympics.
Cheserek is also a two-time NJISAA Prep A state champion and holds the U.S. prep national indoor record at 5,000 meters.
Cheserek, 18, has maintained a B average. He has volunteered on behalf of the St. Mary’s Parish food pantry in Newark.
Cheserek remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.