West Central junior Derick Peters was named the Gatorade South Dakota Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year on Monday. He is the first Trojan to be selected for the award and just the second runner from Class A to win the award (Alex Muntefering, Parkston, 2008-09).
The Gatorade Player of the Year awards recognize athletic excellence, as well as academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.
Peters dominated the Class A state meet, clearing the 5,000-meter course in 15:37.67. He finished over 55 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor and helped the Trojans claim second place as a team.
The 5-foot-11 junior also competed in two regional events in November. He placed 31st at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships at Yankton Trail Park, and 32nd at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Peters went undefeated against in-state competition last season and his 14:57.18 finish at the Lennox Invitational was the fastest prep time of the year.
“Even though we had a very talented team this year, every time we raced against Derick Peters, he was the one who stole the show,” Sioux Falls Christian coach Luke Vander Leest said. “We expected him to be one of the top runners in our conference, but he far exceeded the expectations that many of us had.”
The top student in his class with a 4.0 GPA, Peters is a drum major for the West Central marching band and a trombone player in the school’s concert and jazz bands. He also volunteers as a soccer referee.
With a year of eligibility still remaining, Peters will have an opportunity to become the state’s first repeat winner since Brookings’ Addison DeHaven (2012-13, 2013-14). Rapid City Central’s Tony Smoragiewicz was a two-time winner as well (2010-11, 2011-12).
As a Gatorade Player of the Year, Peters will be able to select a national or local youth sports organization to receive a grant as part of the Gatorade Play It Forward program. Every Gatorade Player of the Year state winner receives a $1,000 grant to donate and will have the opportunity to enter for an additional $10,000 spotlight grant by writing a brief essay explaining why their selected organization deserves additional support. 12 spotlight grants – one for each sport – will be announced throughout the year.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .