With the announcement of the Gatorade Players of the Year for boys cross country yesterday, the last awards for the 2017 season have finally been handed out. As every press release for each award states, the POY honor is given out each year to an athlete who is "not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field." With yesterday's announcement, Gatorade has bestowed the yearly honor in the state of Minnesota onto the Roseville junior Acer Iverson!
The diminutive Iverson (who is even young for his year in school), who also owns a GPA just a hair under 4.0 and is also a generous volunteer of his time, was entering his third year of cross country last fall after earning three All State honors in his sophomore season. He placed 20th at the State XC Championships, and the following spring was a top-six finisher in both the 1600m and the 3200m for track. But even Iverson wasn't prepared for what was about to happen last fall. "At the start of the XC season I was just hoping to lead the chase pack at State. I didn't even think I had a shot at the Gatorade award."
But as the dominating wins and the consistently-fast times kept piling up, more and more doors began to open for the 2019 graduate. He was victorious in each of the first seven races of the season leading up the the State Championships (six 5ks and a two-mile), and had even earned the top ranking in the coaches poll. He ultimately finished 2nd to Wayzata's Khalid Hussein at the State Class AA Championships after a great battle and a bold move to try to fend off the eventual champion. But while Hussein will be graduating in June, Iverson will gun next fall to become the 4th Class AA boys runner up in five years to earn a State Championship the following season. As for anything he feels he can improve on, Iverson says, "I just want to focus on continuing to refine my race strategies."
Ultimately, Iverson closed out his campaign with two races in some of the most high-profile meets of the season, first taking 6th at the NXN Heartland Regional in a career-best time of 15:04, and then competing three weeks later in the Nike Cross National Championships, finishing 81st overall, and the 36th-best underclassman.
In spite of all that Iverson was able to accomplish, however, his biggest highlight from the season had nothing to do with one of his races, or any of his accomplishments. Instead, Iverson highlights the camradierie with not only his own teammates, but those from rival squads. "My favorite memory is out at the Whitewater group camp with Moundsview and White Bear at the beginning of the season. There were loads of games, pranks, and great runs. It was a super great way to start the season."
As the track season approaches and cross country fades further into memory, Iverson has a few shout outs to make.
"I want to thank my coach Brian Bailey for getting me where I need to be in the season, Mr. Hemmerlin for writing an awesome letter of rec and being super supportive of all my ventures. And also my parents for everything they do so that I can excel. I am also super excited to get the opportunity to chose a charity to receive a $1000 grant. The impact that the donation can have on a local cause is huge so thanks to Gatorade for making it happen."
Congratulations once again to Minnesota's winner of Gatorade's Player of the Year Award for boys cross country, Acer Iverson!
2017 XC Results
|16:16.9||Nike Cross Nationals||2-Dec-17||81st|
|15:04.1||Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional||12-Nov-17||6th|
|15:31.8||MSHSL State Cross Country Championships||4-Nov-17||2nd|
|15:31.9||MSHSL Section 4AA Championships||25-Oct-17||1st|
|15:44.2||Suburban East Conference Championships||17-Oct-17||1st|
|15:56.0||Alexandria Lions Meet Of Champions||7-Oct-17||1st|
|15:42.1||Milaca Mega Meet||23-Sep-17||1st|
|9:42.4||Rosemount Irish Invitational (Two-Mile)||1-Sep-17||1st|
|16:02.0||St. Paul Central Open||25-Aug-17||1st|