"The award, which celebrates the nation's top high school athletes for excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community, distinguishes Bariola as Arkansas' best high school boys cross country player. From CEOs and coaches to star athletes, Gatorade Player of the Year winners showcase the power of sport, touting an all-star group of alumni that includes Lukas Verzbicas (2010-11 & 2009-10, Carl Sandburg High School, Ill.) and Edward Cheserek (2012-13, St. Benedict's Preparatory School, N.J.)."
Bariola, the first-ever winner from Lakeside, picked up four wins across nine races in 2023, which includes his first 5A Cross Country State Championship and a victory at the NXR South Regional Championship.
Bariola set a new personal best en route to qualifying for the NXN Championships in Eugene, Oregon at the NXR South Regional Championship, running 14:52.90.
[More from Gatorade's Press Release]
"Voted by his peers as the campus Student Section Spirit Leader for all sporting events, Bariola has volunteered locally on behalf of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. 'While Joseph Bariola proved himself as the top runner in the state, it was his unselfish act in pacing three teammates through the first two miles of the conference championship meet-burying himself into a 21-second deficit behind the race leader in the process-that led the team to its first conference crown in school history,' said Rich Gonzalez of PrepCalTrack. 'He responded with a flourish over the final 1.1 miles of that race to also win the individual title by one second, then followed up with a regional championship.'"
"Bariola has maintained a 3.28 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to run on scholarship at the University of Missouri this fall."
"Bariola joins recent Gatorade Arkansas Boys Cross Country Players of the Year Hudson Betts (2022-23 & 2021-22, Fayetteville High School), Jack Williams (2020-21, Fayetteville High School) and Lukas Pabst (2019-20, Bentonville High School), among the state's list of former award winners."
Bariola's incredible breakout cross country season was one many in the Natural State will not soon forget.