Friesen named 2018 Dylan Meier-GBL Player of the Year

2018 Get Busy Livin' Player of the Year Jace Friesen of Basehor-Linwood. (by David Brox, SHUKC)
By: Conor Nicholl for
May 6, 2019

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Basehor-Linwood senior defensive end Jace Friesen’s parents are Andy and Julie. Andy played basketball at Sterling College and earned degrees from Kansas State. Julie threw discus and shot put for the Wildcats. Jace has a long family line that went to KSU, including his maternal grandfather, Earl Meyer, a former Wildcat football player.

Andy and Julie went into teaching. Andy, who has since changed careers to wildlife biology, coached Kansas legend and former NFL wide receiver Jordy Nelson some in the younger ranks at Riley County.

Julie currently teaches at K.C. Piper Middle School and coaches middle school volleyball and track. Jace is a Christian Methodist and learned important family values from his parents at a young age.

They taught Jace and their younger daughter, Delaney, to always have a positive outlook, care about everyone and look out for others. Jace has learned to “optimize every opportunity” that he has.

“If you can help, why not help?,” he said. “It’s giving your time, your emotion, love, your care. Its things that don’t cost even any money. It’s just being there, and that’s something that can change someone’s life, just being there and caring, and loving.”

For 2018-19, Friesen, an all-state defensive end for the 10-2 Bobcats, exemplified those traits in multiple areas, most notably with the Brown family and their nine-year-old son Westin, battling leukemia for a second time.

“He has never been too busy for my son,” Westin’s father, Tom, wrote in an email. “Westin considers Jace his best friend. He lights up when he snapchats or comes by. Some student athletes may from time to time do things to look good on applications. Not Jace. He is a good Christian young man who has a special place in his heart for Westin.”

On the field, Friesen was the squad’s top defensive player for a team that reached the Class 4A semifinals and earned third in the final 4A Kpreps poll.

In a rarity for a defensive lineman, Friesen led his team in tackles with 80 stops, along with 23.5 tackles for loss. He was a finalist for the Bobby Bell Award, given to an outstanding small class defender in the Kansas City Metro area. A team captain known for his motor, Friesen collected Basehor-Linwood’s honor all four years as the Bobcats’ hardest working player.

“Speaks to his consistency, I think that speaks to his dedication, I think that speaks to how hard a worker he is and what kind of a role model he is within our program,” fifth-year Basehor-Linwood coach Rod Stallbaumer said.

For his efforts, Friesen earned the prestigious Dylan Meier-Get Busy Livin Player of the Year honor presented by Kpreps and the Dylan Meier Get Busy Livin Foundation. Just one senior Kansas football player collects the award each season. The award serves as the Kpreps Player of the Year and commemorates Dylan Meier, a former Pittsburg High and Kansas State quarterback.

Meier lived life to the fullest with an adventurous spirit before he passed away in a hiking accident in 2010 at the age of 26. The GBL award goes to someone 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.

The annual GBL 5k race will be this Saturday, May 11th, at Hutchinson Football Field located next to Pittsburg Middle School. Start time is 8:30 a.m.

Friesen said it was “really emotional” and had “breath kind of taken away” when the Meier family called and told him he’d won.

“Something that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Friesen said.

Friesen has been highly driven by his sister and grandfather. Delaney, a talented athlete and current eighth grader, had her middle school career virtually wiped out because of three knee injuries. Jace has continually watched his sister fight through rehabs and hardships.

“Big motivator,” he said.

Earl, a lifelong farmer in Osage, passed away in 2008, when Jace was seven. Friesen remembers when his family sat him down and talked about his grandfather and recalled how the horrible disease affected Earl. He lived the final several months of his life at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Even he couldn’t see his grandfather for stretches, Friesen still sent cards. He has trouble holding the emotions back when talking about his grandfather.

Friesen wanted to carry on the family legacy and attend Kansas State. He is expected to grayshirt for the football team and join the Wildcats in January 2020.

Friesen is uncertain about his major but does want to minor in leadership. His sophomore year of high school, Friesen attended the HOBY Kansas youth leadership seminar at Kansas State.

“Kind of carry on the family name, it really motivates me, and I am very blessed to be able to get the opportunity,” he said.

Westin has battled cancer since he was three and a half years old. He had a year and two days healthy, and then relapsed on July 9, 2018. Friesen has served as an integral part of Westin’s life. Often on Saturdays, Friesen heads to the Brown house or hospital and plays nerf guns and talks Pokemon cards.

“No child should have to go through that, but then for a child to be so strong not only physically, but emotionally going through that, it blows me away with what he has done,” Friesen said.

Friesen remembers visiting Westin one day when the young boy was having a tough patch. Friesen walked into Westin’s room, and the boy was hooked up to different things. Friesen observed the look in Westin’s eyes and the pain he was experiencing. At first, Westin didn’t quite see Friesen, but then saw him and lit up.

“The pain kind of goes away for a minute,” Friesen said.

Friesen helped organize football shirts that brought awareness to Westin’s fight. He had the entire team sign a football and presented it to Westin at a home game with the Bobcats players and coaches.

Westin required a bone marrow transplant, and significantly helped by his mother, Friesen led a bone marrow registry drive through the Gift of Life foundation. Nearly 100 applicants have registered.

In Week 7, Basehor-Linwood won at Atchison, 34-7. Afterward, an Atchison coach who had cancer five years earlier walked up to Friesen and shook the player’s hand. Friesen plans to keep the bone marrow drives going at Kansas State.

“He offered hope,” Tom Brown wrote. “And he kept my son fighting each day and looking forward to Friday night as he coined the phrase Win 4 Westin. Westin as well as my family has come to love Jace and respect this young man for his thoughtfulness, caring and his compassion towards our family.”

After he’d learned he was diagnosed again, the first thing Westin was upset about was that he couldn’t play kids’ football last fall. That stayed with Friesen for his senior year.

“Not everybody has the opportunity and chance to get to play football, so every down you have to make the most of it,” he said. “Live to your best like what Dylan did.”

Friesen has displayed superb work ethic throughout his high school career. Summer weights often exemplify character, and the Bobcats saw Friesen doing extra reps, including pushing the five-man sled, doing defensive line moves and staying afterward in the weight room.

Friesen made the varsity as a freshman as the starting long snapper, a position he held all four years and a spot that was a strength in the eyes of the K-State coaching staff.

In 2015, Basehor-Linwood finished 6-5 and allowed 25.4 points per contest. The Bobcats ran a one-gap defense and had a lot of bigger defensive players. Then, Basehor-Linwood ran out of the big Bobcats and switched in 2016.

In the last three falls, Stallbaumer said he’s had four defensive starters weigh 200 pounds or more. The defense is predicated on speed, aggressiveness and disruption in a 3-4 look.

Friesen has fit the mold for the newer defense. Young for his class, Friesen weighed 185 as a sophomore, 205 as a junior and 215 as a senior. His recent maxes were 455 pounds in squat, 355 in clean and 265 bench.

In 2016, the Bobcats finished 11-1, reached the semifinals and permitted just 15.6 points per contest. He was a rotational player on defense as a sophomore.

“He was in the mix on our d-line the whole time,” Stallbaumer said. “Because of that speed, that quickness, that toughness.”

In ’17, Basehor-Linwood earned statewide acclaim with four straight shutouts to open the fall and eventually posted a 7-3 mark with just 11.4 points permitted a game. Friesen recorded 70 tackles, 18 for loss. Last summer, Friesen not only helped Westin, but Westin’s older brother Gatlin. At first, Gatlin was on the fence about playing in ’18.

Tom Brown asked Stallbaumer if the seniors could talk to Gatlin, and Friesen was the first to step up. Friesen talked to Gatlin, convinced him to play and served as someone Gatlin could talk to daily about his struggles.

“Jace had empathy for that,” Stallbaumer said. “That’s what you want out of your leaders is to be able to see beyond just what’s affecting them, and I think he noticed that, and kind of took him under his wing a little bit, and it wasn’t just him. Jace was a leader like that for a lot of our team.”

Friesen asked Gatlin: “Why not take advantage of the opportunity?” and told him that players only have a finite number of football games, and for many, the last meaningful football snaps come in high school.

“Maximize that,” Friesen said.

This year, Basehor-Linwood was unranked in the preseason 4A poll and delivered another big year with just 14.5 points allowed a game. Friesen credited his teammates for helping him earn United Kansas Conference defensive player of the year and first team all-league.

“We as a group collectively make each other better every single day,” Friesen said.

He was honorable mention all-state as a junior, and first team all-state last fall. In ’18, Friesen delivered 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Stallbaumer noted Friesen’s “big-time motor,” a drive that comes from the intrinsic value family values, and a love for others that includes his grandfather, sister, teammates and Westin.


Along with Friesen, other 2018 GBL award finalists include Dylan Downing of Bishop Miege, Gage Friess of Parsons, Hunter Igo of Derby, Max Seibolt of St. Thomas Aquinas, and Trey Sides of Phillipsburg.

Past winners of the Dylan Meier – GBL Player of the Year Award:
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

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


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



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