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Roisin Willis and Hobbs Kessler Named 2020-21 Gatorade® National Track and Field Players of the Year

Roisin Willis and Hobbs Kessler Named 2020-21 Gatorade® National Track and Field Players of the Year

Roisin Willis and Hobbs Kessler Named 2020-21 Gatorade® National Track and Field Players of the Year

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, July 14, 2021

CHICAGO, July 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 36th year of honoring the nation's most elite high school athletes, Gatorade today announced Roisin Willis of Stevens Point Area Senior High School (Stevens Point, Wis.) and Hobbs Kessler of Skyline High School (Ann Arbor, Mich.) are the 2020-21 Gatorade National Track and Field Players of the Year. Willis and Kessler won the prestigious award for their accomplishments on and off the field, joining an impressive group of former winners. Past Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Players of the Year have combined for 69 gold medals and 34 National Championships, while past Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Players of the Year have combined for 21 gold medals and 14 National Championships.

Willis and Kessler were surprised by their family, coaches and teammates at their respective schools. Check out videos of the announcements: Willis and Kessler.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Willis and Kessler as the nation's best high school track and field players. A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select our winners from nearly half a million other student-athletes who compete in track and field nationwide. 

Competition for the national award was fierce. Willis topped the list of state winners in girls track and field who collectively boast an incredible list of accomplishments, including eight reigning state Cross Country Gatorade Players of the Year, 26 with signed Letters of Intent to compete on athletic scholarships at Division I universities and 25 with a GPA of 4.0 and above. Kessler surpassed the competition among state winners, which includes six reigning state Gatorade Cross Country Players of the Year, 20 with a GPA of 3.75 and above and 30 with signed Letters of Intent to compete on athletic scholarships at Division I universities.

"Roisin Willis was a marvel before the pandemic as a freshman and she showed that the lost season of 2020 didn't throw her off stride," said Doug Binder, editor-in-chief of DyeStat.com. "Willis was at the forefront of an elite high school movement in the 800-meter event this season and was one of three prep girls to qualify for the 2021 U.S. Trials. Her personal-best time this spring shows that she's on her way to challenging the best 800-meter runners in the world."

The state's two-time returning Gatorade Girls Track & Field Player of the Year, the 5-foot-11 junior Willis reached the semifinal round of June's U.S. Trials in the 800-meter run. At the time of her selection, Willis's top 800 time of 2:00.78 at the Trials of Miles New York City Qualifier was an Under-18 world record and ranked No. 1 nationally among 2021 prep competitors in her event. Willis also set a state record in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:41.46, which ranked No. 6 nationally, and her best time of 53.62 in the 400-meter dash ranked No. 10 nationally. Only three prep girls in history have clocked an 800 faster than the Stevens Point teen.

An accomplished violin player, Willis performed holiday music via Zoom for area assisted living centers during the pandemic. This spring, she participated in a practice-a-thon fundraiser to raise scholarship dollars for fellow music students. As a member of National Honor Society, Roisin has helped prepare goodie bags and thank you cards for hospital workers during the height of COVID-19. She also participated in an NHS pen-pal program with fourth-graders. In addition, she has volunteered on behalf of the North Central Conservancy Trust, helping to clear a new multi-use trail at Bukolt Park in Stevens Point.

Willis has maintained a weighted 4.0 GPA in the classroom. She will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

"Hobbs Kessler is one of those extremely rare runners who come along perhaps once in a generation—like a Jim Ryun or an Alan Webb," said Doug Binder, editor-in-chief of DyeStat.com. "That's the company he keeps after an amazing 2021 that saw him go from completely off the radar to becoming a pro in the span of six months. His talents are of a type that capture your imagination. He leaves high school on a short list of all-time greats."

The 5-foot-11, 145-pound senior Kessler broke the national prep record in the 1500-meter run this past season with a scorching time of 3:34.6, the fourth-fastest time run by an American of any age in 2021. Kessler qualified for the U.S. Trials in the event and reached the semifinal round. He also won the 800 at the Division 1 state meet in 1:54.13 and broke the tape in the 1600 with a time of 4:16.68. Kessler's personal-best of 8:39.04 was the fastest two-mile clocking in the nation—No. 4 in US prep history—while his time of 1:49.67 in the 800 ranked No. 3 in among prep competitors in 2021. During the indoor season, he set another national high school record when he ran a 3:57.66 in the mile.

Kessler is a leader and volunteer in the local climbing community, working with young athletes at Planet Rock as a volunteer assistant coach, teaching climbing techniques, setting routes, and organizing games and activities for the youth teams. In his neighborhood, Kessler serves as a de facto big brother to kids on the block and helper to their parents. In addition to his official babysitting duties, Hobbs often gives parents breaks by playing with the neighborhood kids and organizing races, games and activities to keep them occupied.

Kessler, who attends Community High School, an alternative public school, has maintained a 3.48 GPA in the classroom. He will attend Northern Arizona University this fall, but has signed a professional contract with adidas.

"As a leader in the sports industry, it's our duty to spotlight how dynamic athletes are as people," said Gatorade Senior Vice President and General Manager Brett O'Brien. "Roisin and Hobbs are role models for future generations of student-athletes on how to be an all-around leader in sport, the classroom and the community."

Each year a selection committee evaluates the nation's top talent in the District of Columbia and all 50 states, choosing national winners in 12 different sports: football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls track and field.

Gatorade is dedicated to recognizing, supporting and keeping athletes in the game because of the lifelong skills sports instill on and off the field. Since the program's inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. Previous winners include a distinguished list of athletes, such as Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Jayson Tatum, Derek Jeter, Elena Delle Donne and many other sports icons.

To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/Gatorade.

PREVIOUS GATORADE NATIONAL GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS

YEAR

NAME

HOMETOWN

STATUS

2019-20

Taylor Ewert

Beavercreek, OH

University of Arkansas

2018-19

Jasmine Moore

Mansfield, TX

University of Georgia

2017-18

Katelyn Touhy

Thiells, NY

North Carolina State University

2016-17

Sydney McLaughlin

Scotch Plains, NJ

US Women's Track and Field Team

2015-16

Sydney McLaughlin

Scotch Plains, NJ

US Women's Track and Field Team

2014-15

Candace Hill

Conyers, GA

Asics

2013-14

Raven Saunders

Charleston, SC

Threw for University of Mississippi

2012-13

Kendell Williams

Marietta, GA

Ran for University of Georgia

2011-12

Shelbi Vaughan

Mansfield, TX

Threw for Texas A&M University

2010-11

Amy Weissenbach

Studio City, CA

Ran for Stanford University

2009-10

Ashton Purvis

Oakland, CA

Ran for Texas A&M University

2008-09

Anna Jelmini

Shafter, CA

Threw for Arizona State University

2007-08

Chanelle Price

Easton, PA

Ran for University of Tennessee

2006-07

Emily Pendleton

Lindsey, OH

Ran for University of Michigan

2005-06

Bianca Knight

Ridgeland, MS

Ran for University of Texas, Austin

2004-05

Brittany Daniels

Tracy, CA

Ran for University of Tennessee

2003-04

Shalonda Solomon

Inglewood, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

2002-03

Allyson Felix

North Hills, CA

US Women's Track and Field Team

2001-02

Sanya Richards

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Retired from US Track and Field Team

2000-01

Ychlindria Spears

Luling, TX

Ran for University of Texas, Austin

1999-00

Monique Henderson

San Diego, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1998-99

Stacy Martin

Ellettsville, IN

Ran for Auburn University

1997-98

Angela Williams

Chino, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1996-97

Kinshasa Davis

Carson, CA

Ran for University of Southern California

1995-96

Kim Mortensen

Thousand Oaks, CA

Ran for University of California, Los Angeles

1994-95

Joanna Hayes

Riverside, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1993-94

Suzy Powell

Modesto, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1992-93

Marion Jones

Thousand Oaks, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1991-92

Marion Jones

Thousand Oaks, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1990-91

Marion Jones

Thousand Oaks, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1989-90

Melissa Weis

Bakersfield, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1988-89

Angela Burnham

Oxnard, CA

Ran for University of California, Los Angeles

1987-88

Chryste Gaines

Dallas, TX

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1986-87

Janeene Vickers

Pomona, CA

Retired from US Women's Track and Field Team

1985-86

Yolanda Johnson

Denver, CO

Ran for Colorado State University

 

PREVIOUS GATORADE NATIONAL BOYS TRACK AND FIELD PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS

YEAR

NAME

HOMETOWN

STATUS

2019-20

Nico Young

Newbury Park, CA

Northern Arizona University

2018-19

Matthew Boling

Houston, TX

University of Georgia

2017-18

Anthony Schwartz

Plantation, FL

Cleveland Browns

2016-17

Armand Duplantis

Lafayette, LA

Sweden Men's Track & Field Team

2015-16

Michael Norman

Murrieta, CA

Ran for University of Southern California

2014-15

Michael Norman

Murrieta, CA

Ran for University of Southern California

2013-14

Trentavis Friday

Cherryville, NC

Ran for Florida State University

2012-13

Trayvon Bromell

St. Petersburg, FL

Ran for Baylor University

2011-12

Abraham Hall

Grand Prairie, TX

Ran for University of California, Los Angeles

2010-11

Gunnar Nixon

Edmond, OK

Decathlon Events for University of Arkansas

2009-10

Sam Crouser

Gresham, OR

Threw for University of Oregon

2008-09

Curtis Beach

Albuquerque, NM

Decathlon Events for Duke University

2007-08

German Fernandez

Riverbank, CA

Ran for Oklahoma State University

2006-07

Bryshon Nellum

Los Angeles, CA

Ran for University of Southern California

2005-06

David Klech

San Ramon, CA

Decathlon events for University of California, Los Angeles

2004-05

Ryan Whiting

Harrisburg, PA

Threw for Arizona State University

2003-04

Jason Richardson

Cedar Hill, TX

Ran for University of South Carolina

2002-03

Kerron Clement

LaPorte, TX

Ran for University of Florida

2001-02

Brendan Christian

Austin, TX

Retired Antigua and Barbuda Men's Track & Field Team

2000-01

Alan Webb

Reston, VA

Ran for University of Michigan

1999-00

Donald Sage

Elmhurst, IL

Ran for Stanford University

1998-99

Jacob Freeman

Warwick, RI

Threw for the Manhattan Jaspers

1997-98

Jon Stevens

Fremont, CA

Ran for Stanford University 

1996-97

Sharif Karie

Springfield, VA

Ran for University of Arkansas

1995-96

Michael Granville

Bell Gardens, CA

Ran for University of California, Los Angeles

1994-95

Michael Stember

Sacramento, CA

Ran for Stanford University

1993-94

Andre Scott

Sanford, FL

Jumped for Auburn University

1992-93

Charles Mitchell

Waco, TX

Ran for Auburn University

1991-92

Sheddric Fields

Dallas, TX

Ran for University of Houston

1990-91

Bryan Bronson

Jasper, TX

Retired US Men's Track & Field Team

1989-90

Brent Noon

Fallbrook, CA

Retired US Men's Track & Field Team

1988-89

Dion Bentley

Pittsburgh, PA

Jumped for University of Florida

1987-88

Art Skipper

Sandy, OR

Deceased

1986-87

Kamy Keshmiri

Reno, NV

Threw for University of Nevada at Reno

1985-86

Eric Mastalir

Carmichael, CA

Ran for Stanford University

 

About Gatorade
The Gatorade Company, a division of PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP), meets the needs of consumers who participate in Sports and Fitness, through brands that include Gatorade, Propel, Muscle Milk, Evolve and Bolt24. The solutions they provide are driven by a deep understanding of the unique needs and occasions of different types of sports and fitness. Gatorade, their marquee brand, is underpinned by more than 50-year history of studying the best athletes in the world and sports-nutrition research by the Gatorade Sport Science Institute, allowing it to provide scientifically-formulated products that meet athletes' needs both on and off the field. For more information and a full list of products, please visit www.gatorade.com.

About PepsiCo
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $70 billion in net revenue in 2020, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker, Tropicana and SodaStream. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 23 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose. "Winning with Purpose" reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and embed purpose into all aspects of our business strategy and brands. For more information, visit www.pepsico.com.

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SOURCE The Gatorade Company

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