LAKE CITY – Will Balow loves sports, which made his senior year at Lincoln High School that much more difficult.

On Sept. 20, 2013, in a game against Lourdes High School in Rochester, Balow jumped over an opposing player and as he pivoted his knee it gave out and he felt a pop.

He got up and jogged off the field. There wasn’t a lot of pain, he said, but an MRI later revealed a complete tear of his ACL.

The injury ended his football season and any hopes of competing in his senior year of wrestling. Balow said it was difficult to be a part of the team without participating, but he used it to his advantage during rehab.

“I was definitely very motivated during that process because it was hard for me to watch all my teammates on the mat and not be able to compete my senior year,” Balow said. “I kind of used that as a tool for my rehab.”

Lincoln High School Principal Greg Berge said the way Balow handled his injury was inspiring and he is a great example of what they want their students to be.

“He’s a phenomenal role model for our kids, for our younger kids,” Berge said, adding he’s one of the leaders of the school.

Even with missing his final season at Lincoln High School, his wrestling days are not over. Balow will attend the University of Minnesota in the fall, where he will wrestle and study engineering.

He’s not entirely sure what field of engineering he’ll pursue yet, but said he’s looking at something lab related, possibly biomedical engineering.

“I definitely want to do something big with my life and I think engineering would maybe provide me with the tools to do that,” Balow said.

He said his work ethic and motivation come from his parents, Dawn and Tom – his mom was at the top of her class in high school.

Balow said his dad’s work ethic has set a great example for him.

“He’s kind of modeled what a man is to me and he’s always set a great example,” he said. “He does the perfect job of balancing being a parent and a friend.”

Older sisters Abby and Maggie are also very dedicated to school, he said, and are both at the University of Minnesota.

Balow also participated in band throughout school as a percussionist, an idea he said he wasn’t too fond of at the start.

In elementary school, when he was sent home a note about band tryouts he tried to hide it from his mom because he knew she would make him tryout.

“I didn’t want to be in band because I thought it was nerdy and took away from my recess hour,” Balow said.

His mom found the note, made him tryout and now, as his days in band are dwindling, he said he’s really enjoyed the experience. He won’t have time to play in college, but he said music will remain a part of his life in some form.

Balow said he really enjoyed his high school career and there are a number of things he’ll miss when he leaves, most notably Friday nights in the fall.

“There’s really not a better feeling in the world than playing under the Friday night lights in front of your home crowd,” Balow said of his football days.

Balow said when he’s not playing sports or studying, he enjoys spending time outdoors.

“Usually school comes first, but not always,” Balow said, adding his 10-year-old brother, Max, is always asking him to toss a ball around. “If it’s possible to love sports more than me, he’s the only one who does.”

The one thing Balow wanted to say to all the teachers and everyone who has helped him throughout the years was thank you.

“I’m kind of scared for what life holds, but at the same time I’m excited,” he said.

Balow was also a 2014 Academics, Arts and Athletics Award finalist for region 1A. The award is given to students for excellence in all three fields.

If you go...

What: Lincoln High School commencement

Who: The Tigers

How many: 78

When: 2 p.m. Sunday June 1

Where: Lincoln High School