Sophomore Standouts

Sophomore Standouts

By Ryan Novitsky

SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Normally when a student-athlete is named a captain of his or her respective athletic team, it is because of a several-year history of leadership both on and off the court. The term 'captain' is reserved for those savvy veterans who get the job done athletically and academically and serve as a role model for others on the team to follow.

Both co-captains on the SU men's basketball team fall under those descriptions. Except for one factor—both players are sophomores, which is a rarity considering they have only been on campus for a few semesters.

Jake Eskin and Wally Rutecki epitomize the meaning of captain. Although neither player regularly starts for head coach Frank Marcinek, they make the most of their minutes when they enter the game.

"In my 23 years at SU, I've only had one sophomore captain before," Marcinek said. "But Jake and Wally have great attitudes and their value is higher than the statistics show."

"I was pretty surprised (being named captain) with this being my second year in the program," Rutecki said. "But a day or two later it sank in that I was a captain of this team and I took it as a challenge.

"Since I was a captain of my high school football and basketball teams, I asked myself what I did well as a captain and how can I improve myself," Rutecki continued. "That experience in high school has helped me out a lot."

Neither averages double figures, but Eskin and Rutecki do the 'dirty work' that every team needs. Both individuals are scrappy and are not afraid to get on the floor for a loose ball or hustle for a rebound if need be.

"I try to lead by example," Rutecki said. "I have to make sure I am always doing the right thing so other people see that and follow suit. I work my hardest night in and night out, in practice and in games. I work hard in the classroom and when I get extra time, I get into the gym and put in extra work."

Eskin echoed a similar approach.

"I give 100 percent effort all of the time in practice and games," Eskin said. "I'm very loud when I have to communicate to my teammates on the floor. We have to keep the team spirits up when things aren't going well in games."

With these two co-captains being underclassmen, things should go very well for the men's basketball program.