Dan Watcke battles a foe for a crucial team placement at the 3A State Cross Country Championship
The 2022 cross country season concluded several months ago for the vast majority of high school runners, but it did not stop Gatorade from announcing its annual state players of the year.
Hinsdale Central senior Dan Watcke was named Illinois Boys Player of the Year.
Excerpt from the official press release:
The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, which distinguishes Watcke as Illinois' best high school boys cross country player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year award to be announced in February, Watcke joins an elite alumni association of state award winners, including Parker Wolfe (2020-21, Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village, Colo.), Nico Young (2019-20, Newbury Park High School, Newbury Park, Calif.), Megan Goethals (2009-10, Rochester High School, Rochester Hills, Mich.) and Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School, San Luis Obispo, Calif.).
The 5-foot-11, 140-pound senior raced to an eighth-place finish at Nike Cross Midwest Regionals to spearhead the team's qualification to nationals, where it placed eighth as a club team. Watcke was the top finisher in six of eight races in 2022. His third-place finish at states led the Red Devils to a runner-up finish as a team in Class 3A.
Watcke has volunteered locally on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House of DuPage County in addition to donating his time to Feed My Starving Children and HCS Family Services. "Enjoying considerable team and individual success, the University of Oregon-bound Watcke was a stalwart for the Red Devils' season-long success, culminating in an eighth-place finish running as a club team at Nike Cross Nationals," said PrepCalTrack editor Rich Gonzalez. "An All-Midwest Region selection, he posted wins at the Hornet-Red Devil Invitational and the West Suburban Silver Conference Championship."
Watcke has maintained a weighted 4.67 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at the University of Oregon this fall.