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June-July, 2009

Curtis Beach NM Wins National Gatorade Track and Field Boys Athlete of the Year Award

Above, Albuquerque Academy NM Track & Field star Curtis Beach celebrates after Gatorade representative Tiffany Basnett presents him with the trophy at a special assembly at his school for the Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year award on July 1, 2009. Below, Beach poses with his trophy.  Beach is the first Gatorade National Athlete of the Year, in any sport, in the program’s 24-year history. Photos/Gatorade, Daniel Zollinger.

(press release)

First-ever decathlete and student-athlete from state of New Mexico to win honor

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (July 1, 2009) – In its third decade of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in partnership with ESPN RISE, today announced senior decathlete Curtis Beach of Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.) as its 2008-09 Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year. 

Beach is the first student-athlete from the state of New Mexico to win Gatorade National Player of the Year honors in any sport.  He is also the first decathlete to be named a Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track, distinguishes Beach as the nation’s best high school boys track & field athlete.  A national advisory board comprised of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country helped select Beach from more than 548,000 high school boys track & field athletes nationwide.  Beach is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

The 6-foot, 166-pound senior decathlete broke the national prep decathlon record at the Arcadia Invitational this spring, scoring 7,909 points to shatter the 16-year-old former record of 7,417 points.  In that competition, Beach set personal decathlon bests in the high jump (6-9.5), the shot put (44-8), the javelin (155-9) the 400-meter dash (48.16 seconds) and the 1500-meter run (4:09.48).  A three-time Gatorade New Mexico Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year honoree, Beach also led the Chargers to the Class 4A state championship as a team, winning five individual state titles in the process.  He took first place in the 110-meter hurdles (14.53), the 200-meter dash (21.84), the 400-meter dash (47.99), the high jump (6-9.5) and the pole vault (15-3).

A 17-time individual state champion in New Mexico’s Class 4A, Beach holds all-class state records in the 200, the 110 hurdles and the long jump.  Beach took third in the 800-meter run at the Nike Outdoor Nationals with a time of 1:50.75, the nation’s 11th-fastest prep clocking in 2009.  His season-best time of 20.94 in the 200 ranks No. 3 in the nation among prep competitors.

Beach won the high school decathlon at the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic in Albuquerque for the third straight year, though he couldn't quite beat the mark from Arcadia.  But at the same time, using international implements, he eclipsed a 37-year-old record of 7,359 points set by South Eugene (Oregon) star Craig Brigham in 1972, by scoring 7,466.  He would compete 13 total decathlon events in the two days, allowing for both the high school and international throwing implements.  To top off an incredible weekend there, he also ran two super relay splits.  Finally, he won the 2009 USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships decathlon title, scoring 7,599 points using junior implements.

Beach has maintained a weighted 3.75 GPA in the classroom.  He has volunteered locally as a youth coach with the Albuquerque Track Club, in a co-coordinating role on behalf of the Whittier Elementary School Health Fair and as part of multiple fundraising initiatives to benefit cancer research.  Beach’s senior project involved an internship with the Sandia Chile Grill during which he developed a business plan that sold more than 600 sandwiches.

“It’s certainly been an amazing year for Beach,” said Albuquerque Academy Head Track and Field Coach Adam Kedge. “It has only been outdone by his loyalty to his performance and his loyalty to his team. He is truly the epitome of the ultimate multi-sport athlete. I’ve seen him put in five-, six- or seven-hour days just training with his coaches. Then he still finds the time to be a good student and give back to his community.”

Beach has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at Duke University beginning this fall.

“Without question, Curtis is deserving of recognition as the nation’s best high school boys track & field athlete based on his statistics on the track and the impact his accomplishments had on Albuquerque Academy’s success,” said Gatorade Senior Vice President of Sports Marketing Jeff Urban.  “But he is also a shining example to peers and aspiring young players of what a leader and a student-athlete should be.  He represents everything we hope for in a Gatorade Player of the Year recipient.”

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 ESPN RISE, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Former notable Gatorade National Players of the Year include:
  • Reigning 200-meter world champion Allyson Felix
  • Reigning American record-holder in the mile Alan Webb
  • 2006 IAAF World Athlete of the Year and 400-meter American record-holder Sanya Richards
  • NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith
  • Softball Olympic gold medalist Cat Osterman
  • Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning
  • Kansas City Royals ace Zach Grienke
  • WNBA all-time leading scorer and rebounder Lisa Leslie
For more on the Gatorade Player of the Year program, including nomination information and lists of past winners and future announcement dates, visit gatorade.com/playeroftheyear.