Dylan Meier - GBL 2018 Player of the Year Finalists

By: Conor Nicholl & Matt Gilmore for Kpreps.com
Apr 3, 2019

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Kpreps.com is pleased to announce the finalists for the eighth annual Get Busy Livin’ – Kpreps Player of the Year Award in conjunction with the Dylan Meier Foundation.

The 2018 award finalists include Dylan Downing of Bishop Miege, Jace Friesen of Basehor-Linwood, Gage Friess of Parsons, Hunter Igo of Derby, Max Seibolt of St. Thomas Aquinas, and Trey Sides of Phillipsburg.

The award is in honor of Dylan Meier, a former All-State quarterback at Pittsburg High School and starter at Kansas State University who died in a hiking accident in 2010 at the age of 26. The annual award goes out to one Kansas high school senior who not only has shown excellence on the field but also has demonstrated the values that Dylan embodied and Get Busy Livin’ (GBL) strives to promote: adventure, fitness, curiosity and a daily zest for life experiences.

Dylan Meier – GBL Player of the Year Award winners:
2017 – Carter Putz, Bishop Miege
2016 - Will Schneider, Shawnee Mission North
2015 - Tucker Horak, Rossville
2014 - Denzel Goolsby, Bishop Carroll
2013 - Austin Chambers, Shawnee Mission West
2012 - Brad Strauss, Lawrence
2011 - Kole Schankie, Madison

Players from around the state were nominated. The GBL committee then narrowed the list of candidates to six.

“The Dylan Meier Foundation and the selection committee have narrowed down the nominations to an excellent group of finalists. Each of the finalists are not only strong between the lines, but also carry many of the attributes of the Get Busy Livin’ philosophy in their everyday lives,” Kpreps editor Matt Gilmore said. “Each year we are honored to be a part of this award, and all of the nominees should be extremely proud of this distinction.”

The award is made possible by The Dylan Meier Get Busy Livin’ Foundation and Kpreps.com.

In addition to the award, the Dylan Meier Foundation will host the ninth annual Get Busy Livin’ 5K on Saturday, May 11th at Hutchinson Field in Pittsburg. For more information, visit https://www.getbusylivin.org/2019gbl5k

Here is a look at each of the finalists’ accomplishments on and off the field.

2018 Kpreps – Get Busy Livin’ Player of the Year Award Finalists

Dylan Downing, LB, Bishop Miege

Stag linebacker Dylan Downing was a mainstay in Bishop Miege’s run to its fifth straight state championship. A two-time Kpreps all-state selection and the 2018 Defensive Player of the Year by Sports in Kansas, Downing also collected first team all-Eastern Kansas League and Top 11 All-State in each of the past two seasons. Miege won the Class 4A title suffering only regular-season losses to powers Rockhurst (Mo.) and eventual 5A champion St. Thomas Aquinas.

Downing started for four years, and coach Jon Holmes labeled the senior “a great ambassador for our program and school.” Downing, a team captain this year, volunteers at the Don Bosco Center and assisted in youth sports camps in basketball and football.

Downing said the Get Busy Livin’ award would show “the type of person that I’d like to be.”

“Outside in the community, of course you need to help out with everything you can do,” he said.

He plans to play for University of Kansas. Last year, Dylan paced the Stags with 131 tackles, 49 more than any other player. For his career, he recorded 403 tackles, including 39 for loss.

“Dylan is a very humble individual who does not need the credit to be happy,” Holmes said. “He is a team first player who always did what was needed for our team to win. His senior season he was asked to play multiple defensive positions because of the knowledge he had for our defense. This meant some games he was not going to be in on as many tackles because he was further away from the box. He excelled in anything we asked him to do. Off the field he is well liked in the halls and is involved in many activities.”

Jace Friesen, DL, Basehor-Linwood

Basehor-Linwood senior defensive lineman Jace Friesen was a team captain and the Bobcats’ best defensive player. In a rarity for a defensive lineman, Friesen, known for his motor, led 10-2 Basehor-Linwood with 80 tackles, along with 22 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.  He was one of 16 seniors on the Bobcats’ roster.

Jace was the Defensive Player of the Year in the newly formed United Kansas Conference and earned Kpreps Class 4A all-state honors. Friesen is a National Honor Society member, on the Student Leadership Team and a member of the Basehor United Methodist Church. Friesen called being nominated for the Get Busy Livin’ Award a prestigious honor.

“Beyond the on-field exploits Jace is a man of incredible character,” coach Rod Stallbaumer said.

As well, Friesen assists in the grade schools several times a week and has a 3.8 non-weighted GPA. He is expected to play for Kansas State, his dream school, as a preferred walk-on. Friesen is a fifth generation Wildcat. One of his cousins is Jon McGraw, a Riley County graduate who was a standout for the Wildcats and played for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Friesen’s dad is a wildlife biologist and enjoys being outdoors, including hunting and fishing. Friesen credited his father for instilling hard work, adventure and curiosity. Friesen has done significant research into the Get Busy Livin’ pillars.

“Just living life to the absolute fullest every single day,” Friesen said.

Friesen started a bone marrow registry at the Basehor Car Show to assist a grade school student, Westin Brown, from the community who has leukemia. Friesen set a goal of getting 100 people swabbed for the Gift of Life organization. Brown underwent chemo this fall and is now going through a transplant.

Friesen’s grandfather played at Kansas State and passed away from leukemia. For Brown, he organized the seniors to design football shirts that brought awareness to Westin’s fight and had the entire team sign a football.

“I wanted to do everything I could,” Friesen said.

 On many Saturday afternoons, Jace played nerf guns or talked Pokemon with Brown. The phrase for football games became “Win 4 Westin.”

“Jace essentially adopted this kid and has visited him often this fall and sent videos of encouragement throughout the season,” Stallbaumer said.

Gage Friess, QB, Parsons

Parsons quarterback Gage Friess helped the Vikings enjoy great success for a long struggling program. After he battled through injuries as a sophomore and junior, this fall Friess cleared 2,000 passing yards and 800 rushing yards and accounted for 34 scores, including 28 passing.

Friess led Class 3A in passing yards and passing scores and earned Kpreps Class 3A all-state honors as Parsons won its first postseason games since 1976. One of the biggest surprises of 2018, Parsons finished 8-3, a seven-win improvement in the first season under coach Kurt Friess, Gage’s father. It marked the school’s second all-time regional plaque.

“Gage Friess is one of the most positive hardworking teammates any coach at PHS has ever had,” coach Friess said.

A team captain, Friess collected regional championship MVP honors in football. In state track, Friess has qualified in multiple events.

He is the class valedictorian and football team MVP. Friess is active in his church and sang for years with his grandmother in the choir. Friess has helped elderly church members with occasional duties, such as yard work. He assists the local youth groups with referring youth soccer games and volunteers for nearly all community events.

“Gage is a driven goal oriented young man,” coach Friess said. “Teachers, coaches, classmates all respect his work ethic, kind heart, and ability to focus on meeting his goals.” 

Friess wants to attend the Air Force ROTC program at Kansas and then train to be a pilot in the Air Force.

“I would incorporate the GBL philosophy every day in my life,” Gage said. “One of the biggest reasons I want to join the Air Force is because I want to see the world. I want to do as much as I can and see as much as I can while I still can.”

Hunter Igo, QB, Derby

Derby’s Hunter Igo was second team all-league in all three phases, a collective effort that led him to Top 11 All Classes honors for the Class 6A state champion. A Fort Hays State signee for football and baseball, Igo played quarterback, safety and returner.

A team captain this fall, Igo earned offensive MVP after he took over at quarterback for an injured Grant Adler for a second straight year. Derby earned titles in ’15, ’16 and ’18 with a runner-up in ’17.

“Hunter is a coaches’ dream,” coach Brandon Clark said. “In the four years I have coached Hunter Igo, he has never had a bad day.  He never missed a workout, he never missed a practice.”

Igo was already banged up entering the 2017 state semifinals against Wichita Northwest. Clark was uncertain whether Igo would play. Then, Igo hurt his toe.

“Our trainer had to take drill a hole in his big toenail,” Clark said. “I could tell he could be barely walk, but he wasn't going to give up.”

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Igo then ended up throwing for 150 yards and rushed for 150 in the second half. In 2018, he passed for 1,068 yards, rushed for 931 and accounted for 30 scores.

Igo said wanted to try new things and take opportunities, just like Meier and what the Get Busy Livin’ award embodies.

“You want to go try something new,” Igo said.

This summer and fall, Igo spent eight hours working on the Convoy of Hope, which provides young children with supplies and clothes at the beginning of the school year.

“Get Busy Living if perfect for Hunter,” Clark said. “He's the ultimate competitor.  If you look at all the top 11 kids this year, Hunter looked out of place.  He was the smallest kid there, yet playing in the highest classification in Kansas. Hunter never is a problem off the field.  He is a huge role model for all of the young kids in Derby. He is my two sons’ idol.”

One Saturday after a game, he went to the Children’s Hospital and spent three hours with kids. One Sunday this fall on Derby’s day of service, he helped clean up an elderly ladies’ lawn. He has assisted Clark with many DARE graduations at elementary schools and has frequently worked with special education students.

“The kids just eat him up when he talks,” Clark said. “Every game day at the end of school he went into elementary schools and spent time with a class and talked to them about what it takes to be a competitor.”

Max Seibolt, DB, St. Thomas Aquinas

Aquinas strong safety Max Seibolt continually worked hard throughout his career and had the opportunity to first start as a senior.

Seibolt earned first team all-Eastern Kansas League and honorable mention all-state. He earned Most Inspirational for the Saints, which went 12-0 and won the Class 5A state championship, the first football title in school history.

Seibolt has collected the Presidential Service Award for more than 100 hours of community service. He has been on the president’s honor roll five times and the honor roll one occasion. He is expected to earn induction into National Honors Society and National Art Honors Society. As well, Seibolt has a zest for life similar to Dylan Meier. He loves adventures and has been to both coasts as well as the mountains.

His favorite trip was to Leesburg, Fla., where he helped clean a neighborhood. He helped with building, housing, painting, cutting down trees, cleaning up yards and getting to know the locals. Seibolt is committed to fitness and looks to go to the gym every day. He is part of the executive student council at Aquinas and serves as a peer mentor, senior ambassador and part of the Aquinas Key Club. He plans to continue his academics at Nebraska.

“I am a curious person and I apply this to my academics, where it pushes me to do well in school,” he said. “I don't have much money, but I am generous with my time. I enjoy serving and getting to know others. I do my best to approach every day with a smile on my face and a laugh not far behind. In addition to all of these things, I am committed to excellence. I strive to be the best person I can be every day I get to live on this Earth. It's my job to make everywhere I go a better place.”

Trey Sides, QB, Phillipsburg

Few current names have been as synonymous with success as Phillipsburg’s Trey Sides. The senior was a four-year starter at quarterback and point guard. In the spring, he has excelled in golf and track. A basketball commit for Division I Jacksonville, Sides helped the Panthers capture state football titles in ’15 and ’18 – the only two football crowns in Phillipsburg history. Sides did not lose a game as the starting quarterback in his two seasons of high school.

Sides was the 2018 3A Basketball Player of the Year and led the Panthers to a state runner-up finish. In golf, Sides has qualified for state every year, won the regional in ’17 and was first team all-state last spring. Additionally, he has run on the 400 relay that has taken fifth and fourth at state.

Phillipsburg football/track coach J.B. Covington said Sides has a great work ethic and high moral standards.

“More importantly, he is a great role model for the younger kids in our school and community,” Covington said. “…Remains extremely humble.  He always puts his team and teammates first.  He is soft spoken yet when he does speak up, everyone listens to what he has to say.  He is an outstanding student and maintains a 4.0 GPA.”

Sides has served as the anchor for the school’s TV program the last two years and on the school’s leadership CORE team and a National Honor Society member.

“He continues to be actively involved with our school's breakfast buddies program for disadvantaged youth,” Covington said.

Sides is actively involved with the United Methodist Church, including the youth program. He volunteers in many community youth activities, including referee and summer sports camp instructor. Sides works for the local optometrist and as the summer little league baseball program as an umpire and on field maintenance. Sides served as a volunteer for the youth track and field program last year, too.

“The Get Busy Livin’ philosophy is how every human being should seek to live their life,” Sides said. “Cherishing the moments, striving for success in everything, and living life experiences to the fullest are just a few ways Dylan Meier displayed this philosophy. To me, incorporating such a philosophy in my life would include becoming more curious in life adventures and being confident and fearless in the pursuit of what I believe.”

The GBL Foundation also would like to recognize the following candidates that received the distinction of being GBL semifinalists:

Patrick Altenor, OL/DE, Kapaun Mt. Carmel

Eli Basvic, OL/LB, Solomon

Dagen Goodner, QB/LB, Humboldt

Jorge Hanschu, QB, Hillsboro

Joel Hutfles, RB/LB, Wetmore

Zach Pelham, TE/LB, Maranatha Academy

Kade Scott, RB/LB, Pawnee Heights

Kris Wagoner, OL/DL, Satanta


Dylan Meier, a 2002 graduate of Pittsburg High School, was a two-time All-State quarterback for the Purple Dragons. He continued his football career at Kansas State University and started 11 games from 2004-06 as the Wildcats’ signal caller.

On April 19, 2010, Meier died at the age of 26 in an accident while hiking with family in Arkansas.

In addition to his time in Kansas, Dylan played professional football in Germany and Italy, served as a bodyguard for Italian fashion models, worked in a vineyard overseas, ran with the bulls in Spain and went skydiving in the Alps. His next plans included coaching football in Europe, teaching English in Korea and possibly a return to Kansas State as a graduate assistant.

“He had a real zest for life,” Merle Clark, Dylan’s high school coach and family friend said days after the accident. “He lived a lot in his 26 years.”

That zest for life is the basis of the Get Busy Livin’ Foundation that was established in Dylan’s honor. The mission is to provide support for individuals and groups that embody the values that Dylan pursued: adventure, fitness, curiosity, generosity and a daily zest for life experiences.

The GBL Foundation is determined to break down the boundaries that keep people from living life to the fullest, whether those boundaries are social, economic or imaginary.

GBL uses donations to promote these values in the following ways: student/athletic scholarships, sport camp sponsorships, student travel abroad scholarships, community service needs and other activities that inspire and build character.

For more information, please visit http://getbusylivin.org.


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