Saint Raphael Academy student chosen as Gatorade Boys XC Player of the Year


PAWTUCKET — In its 37th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade announced Devan Kipyego is the 2021-22 Gatorade Rhode Island Boys Cross Country Player of the Year. Kipyego is the first Gatorade Rhode Island Boys Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Saint Raphael Academy.
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 Kipyego as Rhode Island’s 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, Kipyego joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports.
Kipyego was first alerted by Saints cross-country coach Chris Magill. “I was bummed out about Millrose [Games in New York City], and I totally forgot about the Gatorade Player of the Year. I was scrolling through my phone, and my coach texted me saying, ‘Congratulations, you are GPOY.’ I was so happy and so excited that I just started screaming,” he said.
Kipyego is only in his first year of running cross country. He began his athletic career as a member of the Saints soccer team as a freshman and was sidelined with an injury his sophomore year, then found his true calling this year in distance running. The results of some intense training over the summer are nothing short of amazing.
The junior from Warwick won the state meet with a time of 15:32.30, breaking the tape 9.39 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor. Kipyego also notched a win at the Class C state meet in 16:25.7, leading the Saints to a second-place finish as a team. He was the top Rhode Island finisher at the 2021 New England Cross Country Championships, crossing the line in 11th with a time of 16:50.4, and he finished 20th at the EastBay Northeast Regional Championships.
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 leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.
Kipyego’s is the fourth Gatorade High School Player of the Year award given to a Saints student, with three of those accolades made in the last 18 months. The first award was in 2014-2015 to Alfred Dorbor in football. Kipyego’s older brother, Darius, was a two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year in track & field, who was joined by his classmate Amaya Dowdy in girls basketball in 2020-2021.
“It means a lot to know that I will be up there with my brother on a banner, [and] also leaving something for the new and upcoming Saints,” said Kipyego, hoping his accomplishment will inspire others.
Principal Dan Richard expressed his admiration of the students’ successes. “It only happens through dedication and hard work. My hat’s off to them,” he said.
Through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” platform, Kipyego has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national organization of his choosing that helps young athletes realize the benefits of playing sports. Kipyego is also eligible to submit a short video explaining why the organization he chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. Kipyego is thoughtfully considering which charity he would like to support.