by Jackie Jenson
Photography by Thru Him Photography
Famed Green Bay Packer Football Coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort. That is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
For Battle Lake’s Petric VanErp, this statement is a true way of life. Participating in three very different sports – cross country, basketball and track – VanErp says he likes the challenges each sport presents with respect to competing with yourself or others.
“Individual running and jumping events have you competing against yourself to be the best you can be. On a team, you are always asking yourself what you can do for the team. It is a great mix,” says the three-sport athlete extraordinaire.
Playing a variety of sports since he was little and just old enough catch a ball, VanErp’s athletic resume now includes 1,000 points playing for the Battle Lake boys basketball Battlers; four Minnesota state boys track and field appearances, as well as a third place ribbon in the triple jump last year; and great chance to break BLHS’ triple and long jump records this spring.
In short, Petric is poised to accomplish much during his 2014-15 senior year, including returning to a number of state competitions.
Starting with basketball, Petric recently saw his cumulative point total soar over the 1,000 point mark this season, a feat the netter says he was unaware was so close.
“I didn’t really know I was getting near [1,000 points] until someone pointed it out,” confides VanErp.
A player with quiet resolve, Battle Lake High School varsity boys basketball coach Dan Peterka chalks up Petric’s success on the court in one word: control.
“Petric is a very athletic player who is always under control,” explains Coach Peterka. “He is a tremendous defender and an efficient offensive player.”
Producing 1,000 points over the course of a high school basketball career is a milestone not achieved by many. In Petric’s case, offers Coach Peterka, the Battle Lake forward earned his points by smart play and meticulous practice.
“Petric was able to reach the 1,000 point mark by shooting at a high percentage throughout his career,” confides Coach Peterka. “He never takes bad shots, and he is able to connect on many of the shots he does attempt.”
A consummate team player, VanErp notes he is not concentrating on setting records this season. His basketball goal is simple and straight forward: get to state.
“I’m not really focused on how high I can make the [my] points go beyond 1,000,” comments VanErp. “We are on track to go to state. I just want to keep winning.”
Looking toward the playoffs, VanErp’s basketball attentions are laser focused on helping his team earn a trip back to that highest level of competition – something they achieved two years ago. That year, however, their dreams were dashed after the Battlers were beaten by Section 6A’s number two seed, Upsala High School, in the second round.
Making an early exit in the playoffs last year, the Battlers were unable to make it back to the coveted Minnesota State High School Boys Basketball Tournament in 2014. According to VanErp this year feels different, more like the 2012-13 season.
“We went to state two years ago and got knocked out last year in the playoffs. Our goal this year is to make it back and win,” he confides. “Our chances are solid.”
Although fixated on state basketball for the moment, the senior also has state ambitions for track and field come spring. A cross country runner in the fall and sprinter/jumper in the spring, VanErp’s running and jumping sports are as diverse as they come. The track and field hopeful notes it is his short distance prowess and jumping skills where he has found success on the state level. Long distance has its place, though, helping to keep his sports endurance and concentration sharp.
“I convinced Petric to go out for cross country this year,” says Otter Tail Central Boys Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Bob Polzine. “I told him long distance running would make him a much better sprinter, jumper and basketball player.”
Petric finds success in each activity by concentrating on one thing at a time; elevating his play in whatever game he is currently
participating. Training, says the
three sport athlete, is a year round endeavor. When the time comes to switch gears, VanErp is always 100% ready to commit fully to the next sport.
Coach Polzine noted that Petric had never run long distance before this year but worked very hard to learn to run a 5k.
“Cross country is like a little family. Petric helped pushed the guys to improve their scores. It was amazing to see his how much his times improved over the season,” comments the veteran running coach.
“I run long distance for fun. Cross country really helps me stay in shape,” explains VanErp. “It prepared me for the basketball and track seasons.”
For Petric, taking on cross country was just one more way to get the job done in basketball and track. Aspiring to make it to the state track and field tournament, in addition to basketball this year, his goals are well defined and ready for execution.
“As a freshman, I made it to the state meet in triple jump and took fifth. Last year I took third. Our 4 X 200 relay team also took eighth,”
explains the senior sprinter. “This year I want to place even higher.”
Taking what he has learned from sports, Petric will soon be applying his knowledge to a new opportunity, college. A budding accountant, he will be attending the University of North Dakota after graduation from high school.
“I like them [all my sports] differently. I basically like the sport I am playing at the time the best,” says VanErp. “Next year it will be accounting that gets my attention,” he concludes.