As Daniel Simmons ran up a hill in his American Fork neighborhood, a surprising scene began to take shape. He heard a slew of cheering voices. He saw orange balloons that formed an arc. He saw a makeshift finish line.
“I think another layer of energy just came to me,” the junior American Fork cross country runner said. “I was like, ‘No way. I don’t know what this is. I have to see what this is. So I started speeding up.”
Once Simmons ran through the tape, he was greeted with exciting news: he was named the Gatorade National Boys’ Cross Country Player of the Year.
“I was so surprised,” Simmons said. “I was blown away.”
Simmons was greeted with the surprise by friends, family and coaches during a practice with his teammates. In a video of the moment, other American Fork runners can be seen finishing their run in the background.
Casey Clinger, a former BYU runner and 2016 Gatorade National Boys’ Cross Country Player of the Year winner, presented Simmons with the trophy at the finish line. Simmons said he recognized Clinger and that the former Cougar was his “biggest inspiration.”
Simmons set new course records in each of his final six races last season and won the 6A individual state championship, helping the Cavemen to the team title. He will be a senior this fall.