KCHS’s Dunn, Smith named Gatorade Players of the Year

In its 37th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade on Jan. 11 announced Devyn Dunn of Knoxville Catholic High School as its 2021-22 Gatorade Tennessee Volleyball Player of the Year and on Jan. 31 announced Keegan Smith of KCHS as its 2021-22 Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Player of the Year.

Devyn is the first Gatorade Tennessee Volleyball Player of the Year to be chosen from Knoxville Catholic High School. Keegan is the second Boys Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Knoxville Catholic High School, after Jake Renfree, now at the University of Notre Dame.

The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court.

Devyn Dunn holds the state tournament MVP plaque and the team state-title trophy for Knoxville Catholic High School following the Lady Irish’s championship run last fall.

Devyn, a 5-foot-8 junior setter, led the Fighting Irish to a 34-10 record and the Division II-AA state championship this past season. Devyn compiled 737 assists, 253 digs, 73 kills, and 61 service aces. The MVP of the state tournament, she is a two-time All-Region selection and was named the 5Star Preps Player of the Year.

Devyn has volunteered locally on behalf of youth volleyball programs.

Devyn has maintained a 3.36 GPA in the classroom. She will begin her senior year of high school this fall.

Keegan, a 5-foot-8, 115-pound freshman, won the Class AA, Division II, state meet this past season with a time of 15:29.09, breaking the tape 24.28 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor and leading the Fighting Irish to a fifth-place finish as a team. Keegan set a national freshman record with his second-place finish in 14:53.79 at the 5K Southern Showcase in Huntsville, Ala., and he was the only freshman boy in the country to qualify for the national Eastbay Cross Country Championships, where he finished 35th. Before high school, he won 21 national championships in outdoor and indoor settings in association with the AAU, the Junior Olympics, and the Track and Field Coalition of the United States. He still holds five age-specific national records.

In his most recent meets, Keegan was the only freshman to run in the 114th Millrose Games Time Trials in New York City in late January. He placed seventh out of 25 runners with a time of 4:20.97 (mile). Keegan recently ran in Louisville, Ky., at the Southern Showcase. He placed fifth in the 800 meters out of 43 runners and set a new personal record of 1:58. He placed first in the mile out of 56 runners and set a new personal record of 4:20.36. As a result, Keegan is currently the No. 1–ranked freshman in the USA in both the 800 and the mile. He also broke the freshman national cross-country record, running 14:53.79 at the Southern Showcase, which was also the fastest time recorded by any runner in Tennessee this season.

A member of the Knoxville Catholic High student council, Keegan has volunteered locally on behalf of the Knoxville Bridge Ministry and at the Columbus Home children’s shelter. He has also donated his time as part of multiple community service initiatives through his school’s Rotary International Interact Club, which conducts “service above self” initiatives to benefit the community.

Knoxville Catholic cross country coach Sean O’Neil said, “Keegan’s cross-country season this year was incredible, especially when you consider that as a freshman basically every experience was new to him. He was at a new school with a new team and a new coach, racing a distance that he was not used to, and on courses that were unfamiliar to him. None of that mattered. Keegan is phenomenally talented, has a great work ethic, and he handled his freshman year like a seasoned veteran. He has absolutely earned all the accolades he has coming his way.”

“Keegan had a killer season,” said Chelsea Osborne, head coach of Farragut High School. “To see him accomplish everything he did as a freshman was pretty amazing. He just has the drive to be the best.”

Keegan has maintained an A average in the classroom. He will begin his sophomore year of high school this fall.

Gatorade has a longstanding history of serving athlete communities and understands how sports instill valuable lifelong skills on and off the field. Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform, Devyn and Keegan have the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of their choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports. Devyn and Keegan are also eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.

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.

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

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