BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - For the third consecutive year, Victoria Vanriele has been named as the 2019-2020 Gatorade New Jersey Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. 

In a statement issued by Gatorade, they stated, 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 Vanriele as New Jersey's best high school girls track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in June, Vanriele joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt High School, Iowa), Allyson Felix (2002-03, Los Angeles Baptist High School, Calif.), Robert Griffin III (2006-07, Copperas Cove High School, Texas), Grant Fisher (2013-14 and 2014-15, Grand Blanc High School, Mich.) and Candace Hill (2014-15, Rockdale County High School, Ga.).

The 5-foot-6 senior won the 800-meter event at the NJSIAA Sectional Championships with a time of 2.07.83 this past winter, which ranked as the nation's No. 6 prep performance during the 2020 indoor season. The state's two-time returning Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, Vanriele also won the 800 at the 2020 Meet of Champions. She took second in the 600 at the prestigious Millrose Games with a time of 1:30.55, which ranked No. 2 nationally this winter. In 2019, Vanriele won her third consecutive Meet of Champions outdoor title in the 800, while capturing silver in the event at the Brooks PR Invitational, where her clocking of 2:05.15 ranked as the nation's No. 5 among prep competitors last spring. She also reached the finals and finished 8th at the USATF U20 Championships.

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Also, a talented musician and a devoted member of her church community. Vanriele has raised funds to benefit hunger relief efforts and COVID-19 front-line responders and has participated in an anti-bullying campaign. "Victoria Vanriele is a force of nature," said Gov. Livingston High School coach Dan Guyton. "The only regret is that she did not get the opportunity to put the finishing touch on her career. It's my belief that she would have been able to shave considerable time off her personal best and would have been at or near the top of a list that features past, current and future Olympians."

Vanriele has maintained a weighted 4.68 GPA in the classroom. She has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at Penn State University.

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 & 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 work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep journalists to determine the state winners in each sport. 

Thre-time winner Vanriele joins recent Gatorade New Jersey Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Sydney McLaughlin (2016-17, 2015,16 and 2014-15, Union Catholic Regional High School) and Keturah Orji (2013-14, Mount Olive High School) among the state's list of former award winners.

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 the communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators.

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

Related article: Top New Jersey Student Athlete Shares Lessons in Character and Leadership