AJ Petersen could not think of a better moment.
Moments after being named St. Ambrose’s homecoming king Saturday afternoon, the Davenport West grad proposed to his girlfriend — and St. Ambrose homecoming queen — Sarah Jacob.
Overcome with emotion, Jacob simply nodded yes in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at Brady Street Stadium.
“I was confident she’d say yes. I was just nervous about doing it in front of all these people,” Petersen said. “No better opportunity than to do it in front of all the people and friends and family that are here. It didn’t seem suspicious to have friends and family show up so it worked out perfect.”
After the proposal, the duo spent time sharing the moment with family as well as answering questions from those who seemed to know the moment was coming. That's everyone except Jacob.
"I think he did a good job," she said. "I had no clue and apparently everyone else did. They kept a good secret."
Petersen and Jacob, a Green Valley, Illinois, native, first met in their sophomore year and started dating on Valentine's Day.
Petersen said they were serious from the start. He knew he wanted to marry her after he had an emergency appendectomy in his junior year.
Despite having strep throat herself, Jacob was by his side throughout the procedure and was the first person Petersen wanted to see after the surgery.
"She was the first person I thought of so I knew she was the one," he said. "I bought the ring last summer because I knew I wanted to have it in case something perfect came up. When I found out we were both on the homecoming court, I knew that was the perfect time.
“When you know, you know. There’s just no other way to say it.”
Petersen is a behavioral neuroscience major and plans to take a gap year to work with Medic EMS before going to medical school, and Jacob — a forensic psychology major — also plans to take a year off before applying for graduate school.
Wedding plans were the furthest thing from their minds Saturday, a day that won't soon be forgotten by those who were there.
"I wasn’t surprised. I’m just overwhelmed," said Sarah's mother Kelly Jacob. "St. Ambrose has been so good to us. And we’re so happy to expand our family this way."