In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company recently announced Nate Mueller of Adel-Desoto-Minburn High School as its 2020-21 Gatorade Iowa Boys Cross Country Player of the Year. Mueller is the first Gatorade Iowa Boys Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Adel-Desoto-Minburn High School. 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 Mueller as Iowa’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 April, Mueller joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Lukas Verzbicas (2010-11, 2009-10, Carl Sandburg High School, Orland Park, Ill.), Megan Goethals (2009-10, Rochester High School, Rochester Hills, Mich.), Jordan Hasay (2008-09, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School, San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Chris Derrick (2007-08, Neuqua Valley High School, Naperville, Ill.).
The 5-foot-8, 120-pound senior won the Class 3A state meet for a second-straight year this past season with a time of 15:28.7, breaking the tape 19.3 seconds ahead of his next-closest competitor and leading the Tigers to a ninth-place finish as a team. Mueller set two course records while winning six of his eight races. He is a four-time Class 3A First Team All-State selection.
A two-time All-Conference honoree with the ADM boys basketball team, Mueller serves on the leadership team of his local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. He has volunteered locally with an elementary school literacy outreach program and has donated his time to multiple community service initiatives through his church youth group. “Nate is the most disciplined runner I have ever coached,” said Josh Chapman, head coach of ADM High. “Everything he does is calculated and in his control, which makes him incredibly difficult to beat.”
Mueller has maintained a 3.52 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at Iowa State University this fall.
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 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.
Mueller joins recent Gatorade Iowa Boys Cross Country Players of the Year Max Murphy (2019-20, Pleasant Valley High School), Tim Sindt (2018-19 & 2017-18, Ankeny High School), and Sam Schillinger (2016-17, Cedar Falls High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Mueller has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Mueller is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.
Since the program’s inception in 1985, Gatorade Player of the Year award recipients have won hundreds of professional and college championships, and many have also turned into pillars in their communities, becoming coaches, business owners and educators. To learn more about the Gatorade Player of the Year program, check out past winners or to nominate student-athletes, visit www.playeroftheyear.gatorade.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GatoradePOY or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Gatorade.