Hoosac Valley senior Jared Haley had a solid showing at last weekend's Western Massachusetts Division II track and field championships at Mohawk Trail Regional High School. But the highlight of his day didn't come with a time on the track — it came through a voice over the loudspeaker.
Haley was honored with the Nate Hale Award at the meet, an award presented to the "Outstanding Senior Male Athlete" by the Western Massachusetts Track & Field Officials Association (WMTFOA).
"It was definitely a surprise," Haley said of winning the award. "I knew my coach nominated myself and Peter Barrow for the award, but in no way was I expecting to get it.
"The fact I did get it is phenomenal and crazy. It was a pretty huge deal."
Haley is a six-year veteran on the track team. When the award was announced on Saturday, Haley had just finished running the 800-meter run and the two mile. He finished 14th in the 800 and third in the two mile. Haley also finished 15th in the javelin.
"I was just recovering from my 800 race," Haley said. "I was sitting down working on my muscles.
"When they announced my name for receiving the award it was just shock, really."
The award is named after former Mohawk coach Nate Hale. Hale was instrumental in starting cross country in Franklin County and across Western Mass., and he was also a founder of the WMTFOA. According to the nomination form, "candidates must demonstrate good sportsmanship. They should be a leader on the team and possess a good work ethic. They must always represent themselves, their school and the sport of track and field in a positive manner."
By all accounts, Haley hit the requirements right on the head.
"Sportsmanship is just something I've held very highly in athletics," Haley said. "I think everybody should root for everybody no matter what. ... Don't get me wrong, in the last 200 meters I want to try and win it just as much as anyone else would, but sportsmanship-wise it was a huge deal to me."
Haley's coach, Dayne Poirot, noted that the award was fitting for an athlete like Haley.
"It's great for a kid like Jared," Poirot said. "He's put in a lot of time, work and energy into track and it's great to see him get honored with an award like that.
"Jared's been here for six years with the program ... he's a very lead-by-example guy, but he's also vocal, great with sportsmanship, always positive, always encouraging."
Along with Haley, teammate Peter Barrow was also in the final five nominees for the award. Haley thought Barrow would win the award, while Poirot was just honored to have two of his athletes nominated in the first place.
"We really felt like we had two good nominees," Poirot said. "Which is great for the two kids. The community service, the academic work, the sportsmanship — it's special to have two kids at that level."
Haley's season continues on Saturday when he races at the Central/West Division II championships at Fitchburg State University. Haley is seeded in three races — the 800, the mile and the two mile.