The Sabers' catalyst: Kale Petersen

KALE PETERSEN

He remains school’s all-time assists leader in basketball and is 2nd in scoring

Kale Petersen is one of those athletes who craves having the ball in his hands … you know, the point guard in basketball and the quarterback on the football team. 

“I am just extremely competitive,” Petersen said. 

That competitiveness is one of the reasons that Petersen, who attended high school from 2001-2004, is a 2019 inductee into the Central DeWitt Hall of Fame. 

He was one of those rare athletes who “really enjoyed the grind of every sports season and putting in the necessary work to be successful,” he wrote in messages shared with the media.

Equally rare is a four-year starter in Iowa Class 3A boys basketball, especially for a playmaking point guard.

He’s the ballhandler-in-chief who directs the offense. He is counted on even more than usual when he is tasked with breaking a variety of defensive-pressure schemes.

Even at a young age, Kale Petersen demonstrated the ability to handle the pressure. He ran the offense for the Sabers from 2001-04.

George Pickup, now middle and high school principal, coached basketball for 13 years. He recalled seeing Petersen play for the first time when he was in eighth grade.

“You could just tell he was going to be a good player,” Pickup said. “He had court savvy; he had a very good understanding of the game.”

He said Petersen had a little swagger to him.

“I think you have to have a little of that,” Pickup said. “He was our catalyst. He made other people around him better.”

“That just goes hand-in-hand with the positions I was playing,” Petersen said of his confidence.

Petersen remains the school’s all-time leader in career assists (550), and he is second all-time in career points (1,008). He is the only Saber to record more than 1,000 points, 500 assists and 250 rebounds.

He was named to the first-team all-conference team three times, and he earned second-team all-conference honors as a freshman.

Oh, by the way, Petersen also excelled in football and track. He was a two-year starter as quarterback and defensive back. He led his team to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs during his senior year.

“Well, the thing that I remember most was his leadership,” said Kurt Kreiter, who was the head football coach during Petersen’s tenure and now is the activities director. “And the focus and drive he displayed at such a young age.

“He was a running quarterback; he was athletic,” Kreiter added. “And we could not keep him off the field. He ended up playing (on defense, too).”

Petersen was a leader of a class that had begun to show some promising signs ahead of the 2003 season.

“We had come off a pretty challenging year the year before, and we made it to the quarterfinals and then lost to a pretty good Mount Vernon team,” Kreiter said. “They were a powerhouse back then. That was the year where we started to turn the corner and prove that we could go nose to nose with a team like that.”

Petersen was twice named to the first team of the all-conference team as a defensive back, and he also was second-team all-state selection as a senior.

Peterson also was a three-year letter winner in track. He qualified for the state track meet in the 400 low hurdles and qualified for the Drake Relays in the 4x100 relay.

He was on the honor roll every quarter of high school, and was a member of the National Honor Society. 

He went on to play collegiate basketball for Coe College, starting two of his four years there. He was one of the catalysts on the Coe team that won its first conference championship. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Petersen now is a regional manager for River Valley Cooperative. He and his wife, Jenni, have three young children.

“I guess the biggest thing for me is that he’s really become a great father, great husband and a great worker in society,” Pickup said.

“That’s because I have great parents,” Petersen added.