In its 38th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade on Jan. 30 announced that Keegan Smith of Knoxville Catholic High School is the 2022-23 Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Player of the Year, the second straight year the Fighting Irish runner has won the award.
Keegan is the second Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Knoxville Catholic High School, following Jake Renfree in 2018-19.
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 Keegan as Tennessee’s best high school boys cross country player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year award, Keegan joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners.
Keegan, a 5-foot-8, 117-pound sophomore, was the fastest Tennessean in the Saturday Light Fever Invitational Gold Varsity race this past season, clocking a personal-best time of 14:53.6 over 5K to take second. He was also the state’s top performer at the Champs Sports Southeast Regionals, where he crossed the line 13th in 15:20.8. He finished fourth at the Class AA state meet, pacing the Fighting Irish to a fourth-place team finish.
Keegan has volunteered locally on behalf of the Knoxville Bridge Ministry, serving meals monthly to hundreds of homeless. He has donated his time with the Columbus Home Children’s Shelter, Samaritan Place, and the Ladies of Charity of Knoxville.
“A 19-time national champion at the age-group level, Keegan Smith has continued his excellence on the prep scene,” said PrepCalTrack editor Rich Gonzalez. “Winning his second Gatorade Player of the Year award as a sophomore speaks volumes about his work ethic. His showing at Saturday Light Fever was a season highlight, but he then delivered an impressive top-15 finish at the Champs Sports Southeast Regionals.”
Keegan has maintained a 4.43 GPA in the classroom. He will begin his junior year of high school this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track and field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media, and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.
Two-time winner Keegan joins recent Gatorade Tennessee Boys Cross Country Players of the Year Aiden Britt (2020-21, Lebanon High School), Silas Winders (2019-20, Henry County High School), and Mr. Renfree (2018-19, Knoxville Catholic High School), among the state’s list of former award-winners.
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.