Star Valley junior Habtamu Wetzel was named the Gatorade Wyoming Boys Cross Country Player of the Year on Friday in a release from The Gatorade Company. Wetzel receives the honor for the first time in his prep career. He is the third winner of this award from Star Valley High School, joining Peter Visser and Shane Henderson in that distinction.

Wetzel was the Class 4A state champion last season and crossed the finish line at the championships with a time of 15:48.3. That gave him his second individual title and helped Star Valley to a second straight 4A team championship. Wetzel was unbeaten when he competed in-state last fall. He placed ninth at the prestigious Bob Firman Invitational in Idaho with a personal-best time of 15:29.7. Wetzel earned third-team all-region honors with his 16th-place finish at the Nike Cross Nationals Northwest regional cross-country meet.

Wetzel maintains a 3.88 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered as part of multiple community beautification projects and local food drives. He has also donated his time with a wintertime clothing drive and with the Afton Food Pantry.

Rich Gonzales of PrepCalTrack spoke highly of Wetzel in the media release from Gatorade.

“Habtamu Wetzel was without peer on the Wyoming landscape and also represented very well across state lines at major meets. He is the clear choice for the award.”

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This is the 39th year The Gatorade Company is honoring the nation’s best high school athletes. This award celebrates the nation’s top high school athletes for excellence on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. It distinguishes Wetzel as Wyoming’s best high school boys’ cross-country runner. He is now a finalist for Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year. That will be announced next month.

Wetzel joins Owen Burnett from Mountain View (2022-23), Jackson’s Mason Wheeler (2021-22), and Peter Visser from Star Valley (2020-21, 2019-20, 2018-19), among the state’s list of former award winners.

As part of Gatorade’s commitment to breaking down barriers in sport, every Player of the Year also receives a grant to donate to a social impact partner. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $4.9 million across more than 1,600 organizations.

Information from a press release issued by The Gatorade Company was used in this story.

Boys State Cross Country-2023

Boys State Cross Country-2023

Gallery Credit: Libby Ngo, Frank Gambino

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