Austin Rehkow has caught a glimmer of his future after kicking his way to fame Thursday night.
Following three restless hours of sleep, the Central Valley High School senior awoke for interviews with “Good Morning America” and the “Today” show, sharing his story of booting a record-breaking field goal to help his team win a wild football game. His exploit was also featured on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
Between classes Friday the big smile stretched across his face seemed permanent as Rehkow’s friends and fans congratulated him.
Teammates hugged the shy senior, and girls floated by with stars in their eyes.
“He’s a stud,” one classmate said.
This was hours after Rehkow made history with a 67-yard field goal to take the CV Bears into overtime, and ultimately victory, against the Shadle Park Highlanders on Thursday night.
The kick is believed to have tied the second-longest field goal in national high school history, snapping the Washington state record of 62 yards that had stood since 1929.
Senior classmate Madison Rountree has known Rehkow since kindergarten and knows what Thursday’s game meant for their school.
“I feel like it carries on the legacy about what a great school CV is,” Rountree said. “If anyone was to achieve something so great and break a state record, he deserves it.”
He may be basking in the limelight from his big play, but Rehkow, 17, said he’s been humbled by the experience and is proud to be a Bear.
“I didn’t really have any time to think about it. The whole team swarmed the field congratulating me and whatnot – it was one of those in-the-moment kind of things. I made the kick, put our team in overtime and ended up winning because of it,” Rehkow said.
Rehkow said he stuck to the fundamentals with seconds to go.
“Just swing through and keep the head down – definitely put some leg behind it,” Rehkow said.
The results from the play: more than 100 friend requests on Facebook and sports fans searching the Internet for the kid who kicked a 67-yard field goal.
“It’s amazing … how one kick can go from a high school game, where less than 1,000 people were there, to ‘SportsCenter,’ where more than a million are watching – word gets around fast,” Rehkow said.
The young player’s father, Freddie Rehkow, recalled the seconds before the kick.
“It’s quite the moment, not one you would expect. They put him out there, what else does he have to lose? That’s a lot to ask of anybody,” said Freddie Rehkow, who teaches health and wellness at CV. “He had a 64 last year (in practice), and man, that was long. To see 67 – that was mind-blowing.”
Freddie Rehkow was as humble as his son, listing the great plays his son’s teammates made Thursday, concerned they’ll be overshadowed. The father said he is floored as he watches the views climb on an Internet video of the sensational kick shot by stadium bystanders, but he’s careful not to get overly excited about the attention.
“The personal accolades are nice and will give him extra exposure,” Freddie said. “For us as parents, we couldn’t be more proud of him, but we’re more proud that he was happy for the team.”
Austin Rehkow is an all-around athlete, though football came late.
He was a standout soccer player.
“He was the kid who always took the penalty kicks for his team,” said his mother, Kim Rehkow. “He’s always had a gift for sports.”
Rehkow first tried football several years ago as a freshman. He also plays defensive back and wide receiver for the Bears.
“We just told him, ‘Look, you’re really good at soccer. Maybe you should try kicking a football, too,’ ” his mom said.
An Eagle Scout with a 3.9 grade-point average, Austin Rehkow is hoping for a scholarship to a school with a successful and competitive sports program. He’s also looking forward to studying medicine. Eastern Washington University made him a verbal offer, Kim Rehkow said.
“I’m grateful for what Eastern has proposed – that’s the extent of my offers right now,” Austin Rehkow said Friday. “I’ll definitely keep my options open.”
There’s a bright future ahead for Rehkow and, hopefully, one just as bright for another kicker.
Rehkow has three brothers, including a 14-year-old who is currently kicking at Evergreen Middle School.