Java Junkies Male Athlete of the Week is A.J. Peerson.

This week’s Java Junkies Male Athlete of the Week is A.J. Peerson. This past Saturday, Oct. 2.,Peerson helped the boys’ cross country team to another second-place finish at the always-difficult Bob Schmoekel Invitational hosted by Junction City High School. Peerson had one of his better finishes this year as he placed 24th with a time of 19:43.10. With his run being the second to last score that would count for the Tigers, his improvement this week secured second place. 

“Right now, I would say we’re doing pretty good as a team. We’re starting to make improvementswhen we need to as we hit the backend of our schedule. I would say we still have room for improvement when it comes to working harder in practice and regaining our overall health as a team. Right now, as a team, we are sore and beat up here midway through the season, but once we’re at full strength we should really make a late season push,” Peerson said. 

The senior went on to say, “One of the improvements we made as a team, and will continue to get better at, is running together more as a pack. The more that we stick with each other, the more we can push one another and make a push for a first-place finish as a team. I also believe that as we get healthier and work better together as a team, everyone will be hitting their max times and we’ll be ready for regionals.” 

Regarding his improvement throughout the season,Peerson said it has come from making a concerted effort to work harder the next day than he did the previous day. 

“In the past, I tried to get better each year, while this year I want to make sure I get better for each race I run. I believe the things I do well like pushing myself to make the most of my abilities, listening to the coach, and not giving up (are important) and while that might not help me as individual make the podium, I truly believe it will help my team make the podium at the end of the year.” 

This year, both cross country teams are really young. Each week they have improved together and some of that comes from the veteran leadership of Peerson. 

A.J. said, “We have so many freshmen that make up our varsity squad, people who are going to have to step up and lead next year and in the next two years, this school will have one of the best teams they’ve ever had and it’s my goal as a senior to help them see that potential and help them achieve their goal.” 

Peerson’s personal goal this year is to improve at each course he ran last year. “For example, last meet I didn’t have the greatest race of this season but I was able to beat my time from the previous year, so my goal is to beat previous me every race.” 

As a team, their goal is to reach state, something that Peerson has been part of before, including last year, stating that everyone is pushing themselves hard to make state again as a team. Another team goal is just to keep getting better times throughout the season. 

The team’s first meet of the season was on the same course this team will hopefully run at for State Peerson said. “Normally we would like to run a race before Wamego because it is one of the most challenging races we’ll have all season. It intimidated our younger runners out of the gate, but it was a proving ground and it showed them they could keep at a high level right off the bat. The next race was easier since that first race at Wamego helped us gain the confidence we needed throughout the season and gave us valuable experience going into State. 

Peerson also plays basketball and golf, where he really excels, while also being a member of Tiger Choralefor two years 

Peerson’s favorite classes are in the science field, such as anatomy, because he loves learning about bones and how the body works. 

After high school, Peerson plans on going to college and majoring in Business and Sports Management.