Vestavia Hills distance runner Ethan Strand has added another award to his collection before he heads off to North Carolina in the fall on a track scholarship.
Last week, Strand was named the Gatorade 2020-2021 Alabama boys track and field Player of the Year.
It’s the third Gatorade state award for Strand, who also earned the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 cross-country honors. He’s also the first Gatorade track and field winner from Vestavia Hills.
“Ethan had an outstanding career and senior year,” Vestavia Hills track coach Brett Huber said. “He demonstrated leadership in a way that was really remarkable this season, putting his teammates above himself. In terms of training and performance, this was the best balancing act of his career and we’re awfully proud of what he’s accomplished.”
Strand swept the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 7A state meet this past season, leading the Rebels to the state team title. He clocked personal-best times in five events this past season – including the 800 (1:52.73), the 1,600 (4:11.77), the mile (4:07.90), the 3,200 (9:12.88) and the two-mile (8:59.90).
At the time of his Gatorade selection, Strand ranked among the nation’s Top 20 prep competitors in two events. He was No. 7 in the 2-mile and No. 17 in the mile, as well as No. 67 in the 800 and No. 76 in the 1,600. He also rated No. 48 in the national MileSplit 50, and he concluded his high school career ranked No. 1 in state history in the 2-mile and No. 3 in the mile, according to MileSplit.com.
The Gatorade award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
Strand has maintained a 4.17 GPA in the classroom and has volunteered locally on behalf of Rebels Impact through Service and Engagement (Rise), a service-learning project at his school.
Strand becomes a finalist for the Gatorade national boys track and field Player of the Year award to be announced later.
Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Strand has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. Strand is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization he chooses is deserving of one of 12 $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.
—Rubin E. Grant