When watching him throw both the shot put and discus, it would be difficult to determine the emotion of Gilbert Peters.
The 6-foot-6-inch, 265-pound gentle giant rarely expresses the outgoing joy of a good throw, or any frown of disappointment after a foul or a shorter-than-expected throw.
But at the end of the day, or at the end of his meets, the results have generally been the same — he wins.
And he wins.
And he wins by a big margin.
During his senior season at South Gray, nothing changed as Peters successfully defended his Class 1A state titles in the two specialty throws that he had captured gold in during his 2017 junior season.
And it came in dominating fashion, just as he had done much of his junior year. Peters won the 2018 titles in the shot put by just more than 7 feet (58-2) and more than 23 feet in the discus (175-6).
For his prowess and domination in the two events, Peters has been named The Garden City Telegram’s Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
In the process, Peters helped his Rebel teammates also repeat in the Class 1A state team title, thus capping off a banner senior year in which the school also won the 1A-I state basketball championship.
“Winning the basketball championship was my goal in that sport since we had lost the year before,” Peters said in a recent telephone interview. “That was a good start, and then for track I wanted to win again, but wanted to get some state records if I could.”
That would be the only disappointment of his final high school season, as he came up short in Wichita of the two state meet records of 58-04.50 and 186-04, with winning heaves of 58-02 and 175-06. His season bests were 58-03 and 184-06.50.
“I would have liked to have gotten the state records, but winning was the big thing,” Peters said.
Despite competing in the state’s smallest classification, Peters’ impact statewide was evident as his shot put mark was the second best in Kansas during the 2018 spring season while his discus toss ranked No. 4 for all classes.
It has been a journey of growth and maturity for Peters throughout his four-year prep career.
In his freshman season, he watched his older brother, Jake, set the table for his future goals by winning the same two events with marks of 53-05.50 in the shot and 162-05 in the discus. As a rookie thrower in high school, the younger Peters did not qualify in the shot put and placed third in the discus with a throw of 145-05.
Progress was steady, but not exponentially so. His sophomore season increased his shot put distance to 52-01, good for second place at state in 2A while his 137-02 discus toss failed to place among the top eight medal winners.
Then came his junior season, and things seemed to fall into place, and the distances exploded.
“I think the biggest thing I learned from Jake was just learning how to be more explosive in the ring,” Gilbert said of the help from his brother. “We’d just be throwing in practice and he would show me how to maintain a better balance in the ring.”
During his junior year, when the Rebels dropped back to Class 1A, Peters increased his season-best shot put mark to 55-10 and the discus to 179-11.75, and made winning throws at state of 52-02 and 175-11.00.
“In the shot put, you’re just trying to give a good quick move on the last part of the throw, and honestly just trying to throw as far as you can.”
With younger brother moving up the tape measure, he eventually broke both of Jake’s school marks by his junior season, so the next goal was the state marks and repeating the titles he had won his junior year.
“I always tried to get in a good throw early so that would take the pressure off,” said Peters, who indicated he rarely fouled on his first or second attempts in both throws. “I think I like the discus better just because the distance is greater, but I think I improved more in the shot put because improving a couple of feet in the shot is more significant than a couple of feet in the discus.”
Peters’ technique, as it is with most throwers, is still a work in progress, and he will have that opportunity next year when he heads to Fort Hays State University, where he has been recruited for both basketball and track and field.
“I’ll mainly be doing technique work for now,” Peters said. “Basketball will be first, so the technique work will be all I have time to do. We’ll get on the weights and see how much I can improve.”
Peters said he didn’t necessarily think he needed to add weight to his big frame, but losing what he called “a little bit of baby fat” would be on his to-do list.
“I’m sure I can get stronger, and I’m sure I can trim up some,” Peters said. “I didn’t do much running in high school, so I know that will help me, too.”
When looking back on his high school exploits, Peters said he’s happy with what he accomplished.
“I wanted to win right away my sophomore year, and I didn’t do that,” he recalled. “But both junior and senior years were good. I was able to go to state and win, and we won in basketball. Pretty fortunate that I had a lot of good teammates, too, and was able to contribute to our team winning.”
His mindset was quite simple.
“Repeating was the big thing and I just had it in my head to not let anybody else get it (gold medal),” he said.
Consider that goal accomplished for the gentle giant from South Gray.
Contact Brett Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.