Three-sport athlete Matt Sandrik is accustomed to taking leaps?”both literally and figuratively.
The former Riverside Brookfield High School athlete will be making the leap to Illinois Wesleyan in the fall, where he will play football and basketball, and who knows, he may try to leap onto the track team as well. The talented wideout compiled 1,200 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in the fall and then played on the RB basketball team over winter where he was named All-conference and voted player of the year in the Suburban Prairie Conference (East) Division. He averaged 10.3 points per game, including seven rebounds, and five assists per game. But, his biggest achievement may have been taking the road less traveled this spring.
Rather than play a fourth year of baseball, Sandrik decided to compete in the high jump on the RB track team. Sandrik had lost his love of baseball and wanted to try something new, so why not try out for track? The learning curve would he high, considering that Sandrik had not competed in track since junior high. But he was undaunted, according to RB track coach TK Ehlebracht.
“Matt determined he didn’t want to play baseball and I jokingly told him that if he wasn’t going to play baseball, he should try the high jump,” Ehlebracht said. “Low and behold, he decided to give it a try. I really did not expect him to do as well as he did, but he really hit the ground running. We really didn’t have any high jumpers on the team this year and we didn’t have any expectations of Matt other than him helping us place in the conference meet.”
Sandrik not only took first in the conference meet in the high jump, he also placed first in the long jump and triple jump as well. The 6-foot-5 high jumper captured a league title and was the sole representative of the RB track team at the state track and field meet?”not bad for a rookie. Sandrik ended his run with a 15th-place finish at state and while he surprised himself with his success, he said his lifetime love of athletics was truly his motivation.
“I signed to play football, but I ran into the basketball coach the other day and he said that I should come out for basketball as well,” Sandrik said. “I’m very excited to go to college and the new challenges that it will bring. I am not sure if I will try out for track as well, but I am open to the idea. I have always loved sports and I try to get involved in as many as I can and I really don’t see that changing.”
While Sandrik excelled on the playing field, he also focused in the classroom, compiling a 3.5 cumulative grade point average at RB. Though he is undecided on what he may study at Illinois Weslayen, he is excited to get his college career underway.
“It really feels good to get a chance to play more football,” he said. “I love the game and I am anxious to see where it will take me. I honestly think a large part of my success had been due to the great coaches here at RB. They really understood how to support players and build team chemistry.”