Abel, Rust equal in athletic contributions
Their positions were many and their stories unique.
Morgan Abel and Dylan Rust took different routes to athletic greatness while at Eudora, but for their equal three-sport dominance, they're The Eudora News' selections for co-male athletes of the year.
There are multiple lessons to be learned from athletics, and these two seem to have picked up a few along the way.
"Just knowing that regardless of your size or skill, if you just keep working, anything can happen," Abel said. "(Struggle) teaches you a lot about your work ethic and what you can do with it."
Abel said he came into high school skinny and worked himself into one of the state's top football players. Eudora football coach Gregg Webb agreed, but he said he could always see that potential in him. Rust, on the other hand, was a borderline varsity player until his senior year, when everything came together.
"What makes him so special is that he's one of those kids who hung in there, worked hard and then his senior year just had a tremendous year because of all the work he'd done prior to that," Webb said.
"This just goes to show kids that there are different routes and different journeys that you go through but still meet at the same place," he said. "If they stick with it and are driven hard enough, they, too, can achieve."
Baseball coach Shaun Edmondson, an assistant on the team when Abel and Rust were juniors, noticed a similar change in Rust in his final year.
"Dylan was a kid that really came into his own his senior year," Edmondson said. "As a junior in all three sports he was a good player, but not necessarily a star. Obviously he went to another level this year."
Rust doesn't have any secret recipe to finding success, but he did enjoy the ride.
"I thought it was fun to do my senior year thing," Rust said. "I just went out there, tried as hard as I could, and the results show that I did pretty well."
The duo had plenty of time to get to know each other over the past year, as each was a featured attraction on the football, basketball and baseball teams.
For football, Rust was the center and place kicker, while Abel mainly terrorized opponents on the defensive line. Abel registered 50 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, two tipped passes and one forced fumble during his senior campaign.
The key to that success, according to Webb, was Abel's ability to leave his smile at the door.
"He was one of those rare kids that is able to switch his personalities from being the nicest kid you've ever wanted to meet without his helmet on, and then you put him in a competitive situation and that switch goes on," Webb said. "He becomes an intense competitor, and you just don't find that very often."
Rust handled the kickoffs and made 79 percent of his points after touchdown attempts.
Once the football season came to an end, they dusted off their basketball uniforms and hit the hardwood. Once there, Rust's newfound talent really began to show.
He ranked second on the team with 11.1 points per game, grabbed a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game, made 31 steals and blocked 12 shots. Rust was also second in drawn charges, with eight. The only player with more was Abel, who recorded 12.
One of the difficult things about being a three-sport athlete is the lack of time to recover in-between seasons. Still, there was no thought of trying anything less with these two.
"It's tough because you don't get to prepare as much for the sport you're going into," Rust said. "But they're my three favorite sports. I can't just not do one."
Abel made the same choice.
"I don't think it ever really bothered me," he said. "Eventually it all smoothed together, so I never really worried about it."
Webb said younger athletes should take a lesson from the pair's multi-sport accomplishments.
"In high school kids should be trying to accomplish or at least be a part of as many things as they can," Webb said. "Morgan and Dylan are great examples of kids who had an interest in all athletics, didn't want to try to specialize in anything, and they had great experiences in all those things."
The final sport Abel and Rust played at Eudora is the one that neither of them will participate in at the collegiate level.
Abel signed to play football at Hutchinson Community College, while Rust will play football and basketball at Haskell Indian Nations University.
Their attitude as leaders of the team is one reason Edmondson's club nearly knocked off perennial power Bishop Ward in its regional contest.
Abel played first base, pitcher and was one of the team's top offensive weapons. Rust was a lockdown pitcher.
"Their legacy is a continuation of the great tradition we've built here at Eudora," Webb said.
"The leadership that they showed really had an impact on all of the sports programs," Edmondson added. "Those two will be sorely missed by all of the sports programs, the school and the town of Eudora."
Though they traveled down different paths, both reached the pinnacle of high school athletics and turned it into a chance to play at the collegiate level.
"I know both of us are glad that we're considered the top athletes in this town. It's quite an honor," Rust said.
"Each class has a couple of pretty good athletes, and getting to go out like this is nice," Abel said. "It was an awesome ride."