Local Sports, Sports, University

University’s Drew Zundell named 2022-23 W.Va. Gatorade Player of the Year for Track and Field

MORGANTOWN – For the third straight year, a member of the boys track and field team at University High School has been awarded the West Virginia Gatorade POTY honors, the latest being rising senior Drew Zundell who was named the winner on Thursday morning.

Friend and former teammate of Zundell’s, Josh Edwards, who now runs at Oregon, previously won the award two years in a row (20-21, 21-22).

“This is such a high honor, first off,” Zundell said. “There have been so many people that have won this award who were great athletes. Also being able to keep it at home and hold it with Josh makes it even more special. Track in the state as a whole is so strong and is so competitive so I’m truly honored.”

Drew captured both an individual and relay state title at the 2023 Class AAA state meet this season. He posted a time of 4:08.44 in the 1600 meter race, which ranked 33rd nationally at the prep level for 2023. Then went on to anchor the 4×800 meter race in which the Hawks had to overcome a mid-race deficit over the final two legs to take the top spot. His final leg of 1:57 propelled his team to finish in first by just over one second.

As a distance runner, Zundell is also a strong cross country competitor, but is quick to point out that there are some major differences in the two and being prepared for both takes some mental fortitude.

“With cross country, you’re going out there and running one race,” he said. “In track, you may have multiple races, even across two different days like the state meet. If you don’t have your best performance in the first race you have to have a short-term memory and wipe it from your mind to come out and perform in the next race.”

Zundell has also maintained a weighted 4.02 GPA in the classroom and will begin his senior year at UHS in the fall. After a very successful junior season, he says he is glad to have two more chances at titles in both cross country and track.

“It’s awesome to have two more chances,” he said. “There’s also more things like going to Nike Cross Nationals as a team, and do more stuff like that. This is surely nice and I will cherish it, but I’m always looking forward.”

Running as a whole is arguably one of the most-competitive sports in the state of West Virginia. Zundell knows how special it is to be able to represent the city of Morgantown and the state at the levels that are possible.

“It’s kind of crazy how we have a little hotspot here in Morgantown now with running,” he said. “It’s cool to see how that happens. So many athletes have come before us now that have done things to be recognized and when you see other people doing great stuff, it inspires you to do that same thing. Now with Irene being recognized the way she has this year on the national level, I’m just really proud to be a part of all that.”