For The Tribune
Luke Onken had a full plate when it came to sports at Trinity Lutheran during the past four years.
He has competed in cross-country, basketball and track for four years and soccer for three years at the school.
“I came out for athletics for the competition, and it was a way to stay fit,” Onken said. “My whole life I’ve always enjoyed athletics, and that was another reason to do it. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Upon entering Trinity, Onken knew he was going to run cross-country and play basketball because he had done both at Immanuel Lutheran School, and he planned on competing in track because of his enjoyment from running the trails.
“I actually started soccer by sophomore year,” Onken said. “Mitch Noelker was our previous goalie, and we didn’t have one after he left his senior year, and that is when I decided to take up soccer. I knew it was going to be my secondary sport in the fall. I was going to try and help them out because I knew they were short on people.
“We did so well that season, I really loved it and it clearly became my favorite sport. My junior year and senior year it was my first sport.”
He was the Cougars’ starting goalkeeper the past three years and helped them win sectional titles in 2013 and 2014.
The most daunting task, Onken said, was stopping penalties as the keeper.
“The penalty kick is definitely very difficult,” Onken said. “It’s just a total mind game. You’ve got to see where (the kicker) is looking. You can move on the line, but you can’t come off of the line until he hits the ball. Once he hits the ball you can go in front of the goal. You want to try and be as big as possible to take up most of the goal.”
There were a few times where Onken had a cross-country meet and soccer match the same day. He also was co-stage manager for the school’s fall musical.
Onken was the Cougars’ No. 1 runner his first three years on the cross-country team.
“My whole idea in cross-country, my whole philosophy, is it’s not about who runs the fastest; it’s who slows down the least, because if you can hold a steady pace throughout, you’ll beat a lot of people because a lot of people will go out real strong, and they’ll regress,” Onken said.
His career-best was 17:43, which he ran last fall in the Brown County Sectional.
Onken also was a regional qualifier twice.
In basketball, Onken was a role player specializing in defense and passing.
“I wasn’t an offensive player,” he said. “I wasn’t a great ball handler. I really didn’t drive to the hoop unless it was there. I would pass the ball, and most of the time I would look for open passes down low, especially when I was playing with Dylan Maschino on junior varsity our sophomore and junior years. We had great chemistry and would look for each-other.
“Sometimes I would play on the block, sometimes I would play on the outside. Being on the basketball team my sophomore year when we won the sectional was pretty special.”
Onken also will be busy at most track meets, competing in four events.
He holds the school record in the mile (4:47), and he wants to continue to run this spring.
He says he enjoys running the 3,200 and 1,600 relays and high-jump.
“The mile is fun,” Onken said. “It’s a rush for sure because you’ve got a lot of people yelling at you. Next to the mile probably the only more exciting event is the 100-meter dash. The mile is not that long of a race, but it’s still a distance race, so people can still get engaged in it.
“When I first came to Trinity, strategy in track kind of foreign to me. I had only done cross country, so I usually wasn’t competing elbow-to-elbow with somebody. I do always try to get out in front in the mile. It may be a waste of energy in the first 100 or 200, but when you can get ahead of people then you’re free to do with what you want.”
Onken said he uses the first relay as a warm up for the mile, and said the 1,600 relay is his favorite.
“That for sure is my favorite,” he said. “Last year I ran with Keegan Rebber, Keenan Scifres and Nikoli Haak. Keegan and Nikoli are back. Last year we were very close to moving on.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
NAME: Luke Onken
School: Trinity Lutheran
Parents: Lance and Carol Onken
Siblings: Sarah, Seth and Rachel
Sports: Cross-country, four years; basketball, four years; track and field, four years; soccer, three years
Athletics highlights: Cross-country: Cougar Award winner, two-time regional qualifier, three-time most valuable; soccer: two-time all-regional team, Cougar Award winner; track: most valuable participant, school record in mile 4:48
Organizations: National Honor Society, student government, Drama backstage, Chess Club, Euchre Club, Dance Committee, Academic Super Bowl
Plans after high school: Attend Indiana University, major in biology and mathematics while on the pre-med track
Favorite food: French fries
Favorite TV show: “Big Brother”
Favorite band: One Direction
Favorite movie: “Miracle”
Favorite athlete: P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Q&A” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Q: What’s it like attending TLHS?
A: “I’m glad I came to Trinity for the theology for sure. I know I’m prepared for college for anything that comes my way.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’d made a lot of friends that I probably wouldn’t have interacted with if I hadn’t done sports, especially on the soccer team. When I first started my sophomore year there were a bunch of seniors I thought were intimidating, but when I started playing we just stated talking and became friends, and that’s the way it’s been in all these sports.”
Q: What are some of your fondest soccer memories?
A: “My sophomore and junior years we won sectionals, and that was awesome. Both years we went to regionals and we played Southwestern Hanover in the first game. My sophomore year we won 2-1 in regulation. My junior year we won on penalty kicks. That was real exciting for me because in that game no penalty kick got by me. They mis-hit quite a few, but I also save a couple. That was special. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
Q: What were home basketball games like?
A: “The home games were fantastic. We always pull a whole lot of people from everywhere, from this area. That was always something special.”