GNB Voc-Tech’s Alex DaCruz is 2021 Male Athlete of the Year
From the moment Alex DaCruz entered the track inside GNB Voc-Tech’s Z. Walter Janiak Fieldhouse in his freshman year, he was chasing one thing: a division title.
DaCruz had seen his mentor, Djeury Amado, win the Div. 2nd crown in the 55 dash in 2018 and he wanted nothing more than to reach similar heights in his own track career.
DaCruz had moved closer, taking fourth place in the 2019 Division triple jump. Meets 2 East and third in long jump in 2019-20 Div. 2 championship.
Due to the pandemic, DaCruz did not have a vaccine in spring 2020 and winter 2020-21.
His last chance to reach his coveted goal came this spring, but DaCruz then suffered hamstring strain, sidelining him for nearly three weeks and putting his opportunity in jeopardy.
“It was disappointing,” said the GNB Voc-Tech senior. “I had never had an injury like this. I went into panic mode.
“I was getting a little nervous because I was sitting for a few weeks and nothing was guaranteed. If you really care about sports like me, you get a sense of urgency. “
DaCruz took it day to day, alternating between ice baths and hot baths while stretching.
He was back in shape from the start of the league games and delivered one great performance after another. DaCruz swept the triple jump at the South Coast Conference, Div. 1 South and All-State come together to win the Boys Track Athlete of the Year award at 2021 Standard Times.
“The injury really locked my focus; this is the critical moment, ”he said. “I am happy that this has happened and I am very lucky that it has happened in my direction.”
Considering that a division title had been the center of DaCruz’s attention for so long, it felt odd when he finally won it with a 44-08.25 triple jump.
“Since I got to high school my main goal was to go to divisional competition and win it,” said the 19-year-old. “I didn’t know how to feel right now. It was like, ‘I won, what now?’
“I was grateful to win, but I didn’t know how to feel. I spent all of my four years trying to grasp this, what now?
DaCruz discovered the answer the following week when he attended All-States.
“I was happy to be there,” he admitted. “But once I got into the competition my competitive spirit took over and I wanted to win. I wanted to be the first.
Taking on the best jumpers in the state, DaCruz rose to the top, winning the triple jump with a jump of 44-11.25.
“This one, I felt it for sure,” he said of his reaction to the All-States victory.
It turned out to be a historic race for DaCruz as he became the first track athlete – male or female – in GNB Voc-Tech to become an All-State Champion.
“It really feels good, but it trips you up,” he said. “When you go and explain it to someone, it’s difficult. It really means a lot to me to be the first. I would never think that I would be the first All-State Champion to come out of Voc-Tech.
“For what this school has done for me personally, they have made me the best that I can be. There are days as a student athlete when you get tired, but there is something pushing you out there to achieve the goal you want to accomplish. A lot of people have played a big part in my success.
GNB Voc-Tech Head Coach Mark Thornhill saw something special in DaCruz early on.
“You could see it right away,” he said. “This kid did everything right. He was probably the most dedicated track athlete I have ever coached. He did whatever it takes during the offseason to be successful. He took the sport seriously and studied it.
The work DaCruz did away from GNB Voc-Tech made him excel on the track for the Bears.
“My mom always told me if you wanted to do something, do it 100%,” he said. “I made sure I put 100% of my effort into it.
“I took that extra time to work on what I wasn’t good at. I had a lot to sharpen.
DaCruz is reportedly going to Cushman Park in Fairhaven to practice during the offseason. He also trained in season after the end of training.
“Coach Thornhill said, ‘If you want to be a state champion, you’ve got to get down to business,” he said. “We did it.”
As DaCruz saw the results of his hard work pay off, it made him work harder and harder.
“You get addicted to it,” he said. “I just don’t like losing. My losses, I learn to appreciate them more as a lesson. This is what feeds me. I try to do my best and if it’s not my best, I try to learn from it.
DaCruz is excited about his next chapter at American International College, where he will study business and compete in athletics on a scholarship.
“I not only want to represent my new school, but also to make Voc-Tech proud because that’s where I started,” he said. “Nothing can change the amount of fun and the lessons I have learned during my four years of coaching at Voc-Tech. They really helped me a lot with what I can learn and I can take it wherever I go in the future. It’s bigger than sport at the end of the day.
ALL ABOUT ALEX DaCRUZ
WHY IT WAS SELECTED: DaCruz made history at GNB Voc-Tech by becoming the school’s first track athlete – male or female – to win an All-State Championship. Bishop Stang’s Jacob Cookinham was also up for the first honor after winning the Div. 2 shot put and placed sixth in that event at the national championships.
KEY STATISTICS: After going undefeated in the regular season, DaCruz won both the triple jump (44-01) and the long jump (21-03) at the South Coast Conference Championship to claim MVP SCC honors. He went on to win the Div’s first triple jump. 1 meeting south (44-08.25) and all states (44-11.25).
MOMENT MVP: While DaCruz’s performances at Div. 1 and all-state meets were memorable, his biggest day came at the invitation of MSTCA coaches Jim Hoar when he won the long jump (21-8) and triple jump (45-10, 75) with season records in both events.
JEREMY TILTON, NEW BEDFORD COACH: “I think Alex represented his school the best. He is so confident in his abilities. He’s a very coordinated child. He’s a hard worker and he’s a good boy.
REMARKS: Alex is the son of Jorge DaCruz and Helena Varela. “They gave me that driving force to go out and get it,” he said. “They played a big role in it. Coming from where they came from in Cape Verde, it was not easy for them. I wanted to make them proud. … DaCruz has six siblings. … DaCruz’s first love was soccer, a sport he has been playing since he was five years old. DaCruz played three seasons of football at GNB Voc-Tech. … He made his track and field debut at New Bedford High in eighth grade at Roosevelt. “I’ve been a footballer most of my life, but that changed when I got to high school,” he said. “Track and field was not something I had planned to do and I’m glad I did.