Perry Lecompton Senior Strikes Back Against Leukemia

PERRY, Kan. (WIBW-TV) -- It would take more than cancer to derail Perry Lecompton High School senior Zach Linquist's dream of catching a college baseball scholarship.

Diagnosed with leukemia in October, Zach says it wasn't a matter of wanting to do everything he always had, but needing to. He says he "hated" the four days he had to spend in the hospital when he was first diagnosed, recalling how the doctors would repeatedly tell him he needed to sit down because he kept getting up and wandering the halls.

Zach definitely did not take the diagnosis lying down. He is back on the baseball field this spring, helping the Kaws to a 9-0 start by batting .469 with a .000 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched as of late April.

Not only that, Zach earned honorable mention all-state honors for basketball, playing half the season with a port in his chest for treatments. While medical tests took him out of a few games late in the season and fatigue started to take its toll, Zach says not playing was never an option.

"I've always had that competitiveness in me," he said.

Zach wouldn't complain, but those closest to him know it wasn't easy. His father, Dave, says Zach did have moments where he struggled, but "he puts on a brave face and he's ready to move forward."

A big step in moving forward came Wednesday. With a crowd of classmates watching, Zach signed his letter of intent to accept a baseball scholarship to Washburn University. He's expected to pitch for the Ichabods.

It was the primary goal Zach had in October when he was diagnosed - to be able to realize his dream of playing collegiately.

"It's been forever that he's had this dream," Dave said. "He's a strong young man. He's my whole life. I'm very proud of him."

Zach says he visited a couple schools before deciding on Washburn. He says he grew up around the school and it's close to home. Yes, Zach's grandfather is Washburn head baseball coach Steve Anson, but Zach says, since he'll solely be pitching, he'll work more closely with the pitching staff.

He admits his treatment factored into the decision. He still takes daily medication, gets regular blood work and has bone biopsies every three months, so he doesn't want to leave his medical team. He says he's formed a bond with his doctor and nurse. Also of importance to him is the quality of Washburn's business school and law school.

But that is still a few months away. Before that time, Zach has another goal in mind. He and his teammates would like to bring Perry Lecompton its first state baseball title ever. If he can stare down cancer, he's not about to doubt what's possible on the ball diamond.