BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Governor Livingston High School’s Victoria Vanriele was named Gatorade New Jersey Girls Track & Field Player of the Year, which recognizes "the most outstanding high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement, and exemplary character."

The first to be chosen from Governor Livingston, Vanriele, a sophomore, won her second consecutive Meet of Champions title in this past season's 800-meter run with a time of 2:06.68. She also finished the 800 in 2:09.73 at the Group 2 state meet, ran the 400 in 55.33 and anchored the winning 4x400 relay. In the New Balance Nationals Outdoor, Vanriele took third in the 800 with a time of 2:05.99, which "ranked her as the nation’s No. 5 performance among prep competitors in 2018 at the time of her selection."

 "I would like to thank the person who nominated me for thinking highly of me; it means a lot to me and inspires me to always be the best me possible," said Vanriele. "I would like to thank my coaches and the athletic director for whole-heartedly supporting my nomination; without their efforts I could not have received the recognition."

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Outside of track, Vanriele is a dedicated musician and serves as an active member in her church community, raising money to benefit hunger relief efforts and taking part in an anti-bullying campaign, all while maintaining a 4.35 GPA in her classes.

“Victoria’s current trajectory takes her into—and I would argue, at this point in her career, past—some pretty exclusive company,” Governor Livingston coach Daniel Guyton said. “Our team’s exposure to her work ethic each day in practice and to her astonishing achievements on race day have infected our entire program. She has raised the bar for everyone.”

"As part of the Gatorade Player of the Year program, Vanriele has the opportunity to choose a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year."

Vanriele is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award, which will be announced in June.

TAPinto: What accomplishments are you most proud of for the outdoor season?

Victoria: I was happy that I had defended my 800 title at the Meet of Champions and was really pleased with my time of 2:06.68 because my goal was to run under 2:07.  Then when I ran a 2:05.99 at nationals to place third, I was really thrilled that I had shaved 2:19 seconds off my time since last year.  It gets hard to better your time as the time drops.  But, what makes me proud is that my achievements encourage some of my teammates to set high personal goals because they know that with dedication they too are able to be successful.  Also, I am gratified that the GL community takes pride in my achievements.  Teachers, staff and coaches take an interest in my achievements as I am representing the school.  They wish me good luck and then congratulate me.  They read the newspaper articles about my track meets before I do.  I'm especially proud that Gatorade recognized my academic achievements.  As hard as I work at track, I work ten times harder at academics.  It's a great feeling to be acknowledged for that.

TAPinto: What are your plans for the summer?

Victoria: This summer will be intense. I have school assignments to complete. I have standardize exams for which I will prepare. After a two-week break, I will resume training in hopes of a successful junior year.  Also, much of my time will be spent preparing for the recruiting process, which begins September 1st for juniors.  I will also take vacation with my family.

TAPinto: Do you have a sense of where you might want to attend college? And will you be visiting any schools this summer?

Victoria: I'm hoping that by the end of August, I will have a narrow list of universities I might want to attend. I am starting with a list of strong academic universities and considering the ones that have proven track programs.  I will take some admissions tours over the summer.  When I start speaking with coaches and their athletes in September, I'll be looking for where I will be most welcomed by my teammates, make an appreciable contribution to team championships, be provided support to improve my times and do well at high level meets, have adequate facilities to be able to train indoors and outdoors, be encouraged and supported academically, be happy and make meaningful friendships.