Prep Boys Basketball

Man for all seasons: Pirates' Waelder immerses himself in competition

Hannibal's Wyatt Waelder (6) looks for running room after intercepting a Moberly pass in second-quarter action of their game Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, at Porter Stadium in Hannibal, Mo. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson
Phil Carlson 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 11, 2018 8:28 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Thank goodness for intramurals.

Otherwise, Wyatt Waelder might go stir crazy.

The recent Hannibal High School graduate and three-sport standout is headed to Truman State University in the fall to study biology and no definitive plans to play any sports. The idea of trying to walk-on exists, but the reality is his varsity days are over.

That's a sobering thought.

"It's going to be something I've never been used to," Waelder said. "I don't know if I'm ready for it yet."

That's where intramurals come into play. At least they will provide a competitive outlet.

"It's going to be tough just doing that," Waelder said.

All he's ever known is the disciplined effort it takes to be a multi-sport athlete.

Encouraged by his parents to play sports at an early age, Waelder had a willingness to try anything. He eventually gravitated to the traditional three sports -- football, basketball and baseball -- and by the time he was in junior high, he was immersed in them.

"That's what it was all year round, those three sports," said Waelder, who will cap his basketball career Saturday by playing in the 35th annual McDonald's/Herald-Whig Classic at Pepsi Arena. "I loved every second of it, It stayed with me this entire time."

Success in all three followed, culminating with an incredible senior season.

Waelder earned all-area honors in all three sports -- first-team honors as a defensive back in football, second-team honors as a pitcher in baseball and honorable mention in basketball.

His favorite? Definitely football.

"In Hannibal, it's just a football town," Waelder said. "It's pretty cool playing out there. It's hard to describe. You can't really compare it to anything else. All these other sports are great, too, but football is just on its own level."

After collecting 25 tackles and two interceptions last fall and earning All-North Central Missouri Conference honors, the opportunity to play in college could have presented itself had he chosen to pursue it.

It might have in the other sports, too. Waelder averaged 10.1 points and 4.8 rebounds last winter for the Hannibal basketball team, but his defense and leadership made him invaluable.

"Coaches love having this type of player on their team," Hannibal coach Marty Hull said. "He's a big-time competitor. He does what ever it takes to win a game, and that is all the matters to this kid. He fills whatever role you need him to fill."

The same could be said on the diamond, where he went 6-1 with a 2.51 ERA and helped the Pirates set a single-season school record for victories.

"He pitched in all of our biggest games," Pirates coach Ian Hatton said.

It's a position he relished and one he'd take on again.

"I would definitely play any of the three sports anytime I could if I could do it again," Waelder said.

Other opportunities will arise. For example, he played in a sand volleyball tournament last Saturday and his team finished third.

"Anytime I get the chance to play a sport, I'm going to take that opportunity," Waelder said.

Eventually, that will include golf.

"I never got to play that because I didn't want to ruin my baseball swing," Waelder said.

That baseball swing could still come in handy.

His intramural team may need a clutch hit.

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