Class, work ethic earn Peterson Basehor’s top honor
For someone with just a passing knowledge of Basehor-Linwood High School athletics Will Peterson might simply be known as another good Kaw Valley League running back.
But to those inside the BLHS community, Peterson is much more. He's a leader to his teammates, a motivator in the weight room and a class act on and off the field. That, and his consistent three-sport excellence, earned him the title of male Athlete of the Year at BLHS.
When speaking about winning the award Peterson was characteristically modest.
The running back who always gave credit to his offensive line made sure to use it as an opportunity to thank those who supported him along the way, especially his parents and coaches.
"They were always pushing me and helping me along, helping keep my competitive spirit going," Peterson said. "I know it's an individual award, but it would be pretty hard to get it without everybody else."
Peterson made his mark on the football field this year, earning honorable mention all-league in a division full of great backs. He also became the first back in BLHS history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in one season. After that he spent the winter both wrestling for BLHS and competing in powerlifting competitions. That time of year was especially challenging for Peterson, as he was expected to keep his weight down for wrestling but also keep his strength up for lifting.
"Wrestling was kind of hard for me because it was in the middle of the year and I was trying to get my lifting in," Peterson said. "But I'm glad I stuck in there because it helped my agility."
Peterson was able to perform at a high level in both wrestling and power lifting. He was a key member of the wrestling squad and finished with a record just below .500. He also finished first in the state in his 175-pound weight division in lifting and set new records on two of his three lifts. His strong performances were no surprise to Steve Hopkins, who coached Peterson in both football and track.
"The greatest attributes of Will are his determination, work ethic and personal character," Hopkins said. "Will drives himself to be the best at whatever he does, and leads by example."
The rest of the Bobcats craved that leadership. Peterson was elected football team captain by his teammates not only for the season as a whole, but also for each individual game. He and his buddy, Dustin Weimer, were also made captains of the track team and, in their honor, their fellow track athletes made shirts that read "From Weimer to Will -- winning with class."
Hopkins and wrestling coach Scott Neil will be forced to find a replacement for that leadership next season, as Peterson will take his talents to the gridiron at Bethel College.
He will go there with the confidence of knowing he was the top athlete at BLHS this year.
"It shows all the hard work and dedication I put toward sports paid off," he said. "It's kind of an individual pat on the back. I had to work hard to get to this point."