Right on Track

By playing three sports, Butler’s Kalambayi follows own path to success

by Andrew Stark

Butler junior Peter Kalambayi is known for his football prowess, but he’s also one of the best shot-putters in the state. Andrew Stark/MMHW photo

In today’s age of sports specialization, it’s often hard to find high school athletes who play three sports, but that’s exactly what Butler High standout Peter Kalambayi does.

Kalambayi stars in track and field, basketball and (as many people know) football for the Bulldogs. And beyond talent, it takes a great deal of dedication for him to make it all work.

This spring, he’s one of the most versatile performers on the Butler outdoor track team, while he also attends workouts with the football squad. During the winter, he competes on the indoor track team and also is the starting center on the Bulldogs basketball team, which has won three consecutive Southwestern 4A conference tournaments. Finally, Kalambayi is a highly recruited football player, a linebacker who’s the 62nd-ranked high school prospect in the country by Rivals.com.

Kalambayi, who is 6 foot 2 and 230 pounds of nearly all muscle, carries a 4.2 GPA and said after his sports career is over he wants to be a lawyer.

“Playing so many sports keeps me out of trouble,” Kalambayi said. “After high school, I’m going to have to make a choice, and it will be to play football, so it is important to me to play other sports right now. Plus I love to compete, so I do as much as I can.”

On the track, Kalambayi is the Bulldogs’ fastest 100-meter runner, with a personal best of 11.0 seconds. He teams with Uriah Lemay, Channing Stribling and Chris Hancock on the Bulldogs’ 4×100 relay team (43.30 seconds), and Kalambayi’s ranked third in the state in the shot put and 13th in the discus.

Kalambayi started running the relay events and putting the shot in the eighth grade. His freshman relay team qualified for the state meet, and he has since added the discus and the 100 meters to his repertoire.

“I started the 100 (with a time of) 11.4 as a freshman,” Kalambayi said. “I want to get under 11 (seconds) at least once, but I’m 230 pounds so I can’t expect too much. I want one (time) in the 10s. That’s my goal for this year.”

Kalambayi said his favorite event is the shot put, because it’s more about sheer strength than technique.

“If I’m having a bad day, I can take my anger out on it,” Kalambayi said. “The discus is more about finesse and technique, and I’m very inconsistent in it. I will have one really good throw and then a really bad one.”

Plus, Kalambayi said, track is such an individual competition that it lets him showcase his skills and hold only himself accountable.

“The thing I like best about track is there are no excuses,” Kalambayi said. “With football and basketball, you can blame it on your teammates, but not with track. Besides the relay teams, it’s on me, and I get to show what I have.

“Numbers don’t lie. In football, you’re always trying to analyze people, but with track you know who’s better because the numbers are all you have to go by.”

Kalambayi knows his future is in football but said he wants to continue to run track and play basketball next year, when he’s a senior.

“I care a lot about my school, and (our basketball team) didn’t really have anybody to match up against some of the big men in our conference if (fellow linebacker) Sean (Wiggins) and I didn’t play basketball,” Kalambayi said.

“Me and Sean didn’t score a whole lot, but we provided toughness and did a good job on defense. There were very few big men who put up big numbers against us, and I take a lot of pride in that and playing well for my school.”

While he hopes to play basketball next season, Kalamabayi realizes some colleges might not want one of the nation’s prized football recruits risking injury on the court.

Kalambayi, who is the 11th-ranked linebacker in the country by Rivals.com, already has 23 scholarship offers to play in college and has had to turn away other programs who have courted his services.

Schools on his recruitment list are from all over the country and include a bevy of SEC, ACC and Pac 12 schools. He said his current short list consists of Stanford, Virginia, Oregon, North Carolina and Vanderbilt.

“The recruiting process has been great,” Kalambayi said. “I have gotten to see some great schools, and I got to go to both UNC-Duke (basketball) games. Now it is basically coming down to what schools will be the best for me academically and athletically. In the long run, I want a good degree, so academics are going to play a big part.”

While he waits to make a college decision, Kalambayi said that he won’t stop working and expects to be busy with football camps this summer. He is already lifting weights with the football team, which is going through its spring practices, and hopes that he can compete in the prestigious Nike camp in Oregon in June. He has already attended several camps at various schools around the country and said he has made nearly all of the camp all-star teams, proving that he belongs among the country’s elite prospects.

“It makes me want to work harder because it lets me know that I am on par with some of those guys I see at the camps I go to,” Kalambayi said. “I know I’m on the same level, but if I work harder than they do, then I can be even better than they are.”

Kalambayi said it is easier to want to work hard when Butler alumni routinely come back to the weight room and say the Bulldogs’ workouts are harder than many of their college programs. Former Butler and North Carolina running back Ryan Houston has recently been on campus, as has former Notre Dame cornerback and Minnesota Vikings draft pick Robert Blanton.

“We do have a great tradition to uphold here, and it’s something that I take a lot of pride in,” Kalambayi said. “I love my school and want to do all I can to contribute to our success.”

Kalambayi said on the football field his best attributes are pass rushing, speed and chasing down opponents from all over the field. He expects to play outside linebacker in college or a hybrid defensive end position.

Ultimately, Kalambayi would love to play in the NFL, but he knows a lot can happen between now and then. He said he’d love to continue starring in three sports. But if college coaches told him to stop, he said he reluctantly would have to consider it because, in the end, he values the education he would receive at any of the schools he is considering.

“Right now I’m focused on getting my college education and picking the best school for me,” Kalambayi said. “I want to get my degree and have that to fall back on, because you never know what can happen. That is my main goal for now.”

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