Opposing football defenses witnessed firsthand how fast Derek Peterson was last fall.
Now it's spring and the Staples-Motley senior had the entire winter to work out. He's taken off the football pads. He's exchanged football cleats for track spikes. And he continues to run away from the competition.
In seven varsity track and field meets this season, Peterson has won the 100-meter dash five times.
He is one-10th of a second away from breaking the school record in the 100.
"First, he's just a naturally gifted athlete," said Cardinals head coach Ryan Beachy. "But he has done so much work in the offseason."
Last season Peterson asked Eric Asfeld of Wadena-Deer Creek why the hurdler was so fast. Asfeld, winner of four state hurdles titles and a member of the University of Minnesota, Moorhead, track and field team, was the right guy to ask. Asfeld told him of his sit-up, squat and clean workout.
For one year Peterson mimicked Asfeld's regimen and it has paid off.
Peterson rushed for 1,113 yards and 15 touchdowns last fall as the Cardinals' quarterback. He also threw for 454 yards and had three interceptions to lead the Cardinals to the Section 6-3A semifinals and a 6-4 record.
During the winter season he continued Asfeld's work to prepare for the track season.
At the Pequot Lakes Invite May 3, Peterson raced to a first-place 11.39. He also won the 200 dash in 23.43. Peterson's 100 time is one of the top 20 fastest in Class 1A this season, while his 200 time is also an honor roll qualifier.
Peterson won the 100 dash at the Section 8-2A True Team meet May 9 at Park Rapids. His time was 11.66.
"He can run the 200 dash just as well as he can run the 100, but he's got get over this mental block," said Beachy. "He can beat everybody in the 100, but he doesn't do well in the 200. He doesn't like the race. I told him that he was running about the same times as Josh Smith, a former S-M track standout and state entrant, was running. He didn't believe me and then I showed him the times."
Beachy said the team has been training hard and he believes he has Peterson convinced he can do well in the 200, too. He's anxious to see how much his times come down in the next few weeks.
Sport: Track and field
Key stats: Won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Pequot Lakes Invite
Peterson also runs in the 4x100 relay and being in one of toughest sections in 1A for 100 dash runners, the relay may be his best bet for a state appearance.
Beachy said the relay's best time this season is 45.4, but he has a few different runner combinations he can try. With improved handoffs that time could come down.
"He's been on varsity since eighth grade," Beachy said. "He advanced to state as a freshman and a sophomore on relay teams. He missed state last year. We're hoping to get him back down there for his senior season."
Baseball: Brandon Perrine, Aitkin, finished 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs against Deer River.
Derek Neu, Wadena-Deer Creek, went 2-2 with the game-winning RBI and picked up the win on the mound against Parkers Prairie.
Troy Griffith, Pine River-Backus, was 3-3 with a home run, double and two RBIs against Northland/Remer.
Justin Ringler, Pillager, struck out 11 and went 1-3 with two RBIs against Sebeka.
Cole Weber, Verndale, pitched a no-hit, complete-game shutout to defeat Brandon-Evansville.
Golf: Brad Quast, Staples-Motley, shot 37 for medalist honors in a Mid-Minn Conference meet at Park Rapids.
Mike Weitnauer, Aitkin, was medalist in three Great River Conference meets last week.
Hank Virnig, Pierz, shot 34 for medalist honors in a Central Minnesota Conference meet at Pierz.
Track and field: John Knebel, Pillager, won the 110 and 300 hurdles at the Pillager Invite.
Josh Alexander, Pillager, won the 400 and long jump at the Pillager Invite.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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