BE's Okruch set for two sports in college

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By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON – Bullitt East senior Andrew Okruch is ready to become an engineer – in more ways than one.

     Okruch recently made it official that he would attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. At the school, Okruch will work toward an engineering degree while also being an Engineer, the school’s nickname, as he will play both football and compete for the track and field program.

     Okruch knew for a while that Rose-Hulman would be where he would continue his education as well as his athletics, but he didn’t make it official until May when he had a signing ceremony in the Media Center at Bullitt East where coaches, family, friends and teammates could share in his moment.

     The final choice of a school was really not difficult for Okruch.

     “My father went there and graduated in the mid-80’s,” the senior said after all the pictures had been taken. “I’ve known it would be them for quite a while now.”

     The 18-year old son of Nick and Medina Okruch also visited Centre College, but he could not have followed his desire to work toward a degree in mechanical engineering at that school. Older brother Matthew, who also attended Bullitt East, recently graduated from the University of Kentucky.

     While Okruch finished as the Class AA state runner-up in the discus as a junior, it was his football ability that first caught of the eye of coaches at Rose-Hulman.

     “It was football that first contacted me,” Okruch pointed out. “I had answered a questionnaire from them online and they went with it from there.”

     There are certainly a lot of high school athletes who will pick a school based on the sport, not the academics. That is not the case with Okruch. Academics will come first with football and track just being a spare time activity.

     “Definitely,” the senior said. “My main interest will be academics.”

     Twice this past football season, Okruch and his family made the four-hour trip to Terre Haute and took in a football game. Part of that was because he was being recruited by the school and part of it was because of his father’s tie to the school.

     In addition to being part of the Rose-Hulman family, Nick Okruch makes numerous trips to the engineering school to recruit for General Electric in Louisville.

     A massive lineman, Okruch began playing football when he was in the first grade. For eight years he played for the Old Mill Bengals in the Greater Bullitt County Youth Football League before joining up with Bullitt East as an eighth-grader and playing five years with the red and gold.

     For the most part, Okruch played tackle in the Chargers’ veer attack on offense. He also played some defense.

     “I don’t care,” when asked what position he would like to play in college. “I’ve played all the positions on the line on both offense and defense. I’ll play wherever there is an open spot.”

     Okruch also played basketball at Bullitt East for three seasons before dropping the sport after his junior season. He played for teams that won the Sixth Region title in two of those seasons.

     In track, Okruch has been a standout since joining the team as a freshman. The highlight came at the end of his junior season when he finished second in the Class AA State Championships in the discus (with a personal best throw of 162-feet), finishing only behind teammate Trevor Troutman. As a senior, Okruch finished third in the discus (154-09) and was fourth in the shot put (50-11.5) despite throwing over 50-feet for the first time in his career.

     While at Mount Washington Middle School, Okruch won the state title at that level in the discus.

     “I prefer the discus,” Okruch said. “It comes easier to me.”

     In college, the strength guys also compete in the hammer throw and that is something that Okruch would like to try.

     There were a lot of highlights for Okruch in high school.

     “Against Bullitt Central I intercepted a middle screen,” Okruch recalled. “Then getting to the state track meets is always fun. Throwing with someone who went to a Division I program (Troutman at the University of Louisville) was always cool.”

     This past season, Rose-Hulman posted a 5-5 record in football. They did lose a game in Kentucky to Centre. The Engineers have posted at least a .500 record every season since 2005 under head coach Jeff Sokol.

     The school plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference competing at the NCAA Division III level.