Jake Velasquez

Keene High School's Jake Velasquez runs in the Division I meet this past season

Selected as the 2019-20 Gatorade New Hampshire Boys’ Cross-country Runner of the Year, it wasn’t a question if Keene High School’s Jake Velasquez was going to run at the collegiate level, it was just a matter of where he’d be doing so.

Velasquez will be continuing his cross-country career at UMass Lowell after also considering the University of New Hampshire, University of Hartford and Brandeis University.

“The team culture and the closeness of the team was a big thing I considered when choosing a school,” the senior said. “They made me feel right at home when I went on my visit and I got the opportunity to meet a lot of new people that I will be rooming with next year.”

Velasquez’s career at Keene High had no shortages of accolades. He was the MOCs champion, three-time Keene cross-country MVP, New Hampshire Runner of the Year along with the Gatorade recognition.

This past season Velasquez set course records at the Great Glen Invite (16:04), Wachusett Invite (15:39) and CVC Championships (15:55).

Despite all of these standout moments for Velasquez, there was one specific moment that he is most proud of.

“I have a lot of good memories from my time running for Keene High, but I think my all time favorite would be winning this year’s Division 1 State Championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester as an individual,” Velasquez said. “I’ve had a very long history running on Derryfield. After all I had been through, with breaking my hip sophomore year and falling on pavement and losing multiple times on that course junior year, it felt more than special when I finally won.”

Velasquez ran a 15:32 to capture the Division I championship.

Velasquez is planning to focus on music technology and production at UMass Lowell, but is leaving open the option to switch majors as well.

It’s been a special career for Velasquez and one that will be remembered in the Keene High cross-country program for years to come.

It’s a special runner lost for Keene but for coach David Goldsmith, he’s seen plenty of classes come and go over his 37 years of coaching. Still, the bond with his coach and teammates will always last for the future Riverhawk.

“If I were to say anyone but my coach had the biggest impact on my career, I would be lying,” Velasquez said. “I’ve had a lot of help throughout my time running for Keene High, but coach Goldsmith helped me find direction and gave me a path to follow for me to reach my goals. He’s supported me through my whole four years at Keene High and I couldn’t have done it without him. I’m going to miss running for him and the Keene boys next year.”