In an era where many athletes concentrate on a single sport, a Haslet Eaton football player is standing out in four.
So as the football season draws closer, Nick Cerniauskas is preparing for his junior season at outside linebacker for the Eagles.
Cerniauskas was a defensive ringleader last year in the school’s first varsity season and he’s done all he’s been asked to do in order to be even better this season.
That includes take on other sports in order to be a well-rounded athlete. Few would have suspected he’d be a standout in everything he took on.
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As it was, Cerniauskas was selected to the all-district second team last year in football.
He collected two pick-6s and added about 65 tackles to his stat sheet as a sophomore.
Then it was time for powerlifting and then wrestling, a sport he had just a year’s experience in, but which resulted in a state tournament appearance.
Track would come later in the spring semester for Cerniauskas.
“I would put his work ethic with anyone in the state,” said Eaton head football coach Ellis Miller.
“We asked him to wrestle last year,” Miller said. “Then, he had over a thousand (1,010) pounds total in powerlifting at 160 [pounds]. In track, he was on the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 [relays].”
Miller explained that his split times in the relays were high 10s for the 4x100, mid 22 for the 4x200 and 50 seconds in the 4x400.
“He makes it a priority to be the first one dressed every day and ready to work. He is our leader on defense and someone our entire team looks up to,” Miller said.
Over the past year, his teammates have more to look up to.
Cerniauskas has added about 14 pounds to his 5-10 frame without impacting his speed.
“I’ve spent most of my offseason eating and working out,” Cerniauskas said jokingly.
He said he needed a few games of his first varsity season to catch up to the speed and intensity.
He seems to have made the adjustment just fine.
“I’ve become more mature in the process and learned to compete at that level,” he said. “But it took a couple of games.”
Outside of improving his technique at the outside linebacker position, Cerniauskas said he’s really made headway in becoming a better and more vocal leader. Even with seniors on the roster for the first time, Eaton will have heavy list of juniors and sophomores.
His athleticism can’t be in question but he still has been working to be a better tackler as he stated his first responsibility is the run.
One of last year’s team captains, Cerniauskas said he’ll finish preparing for another grueling year of sports by completing his Performance Course workouts and heeding a warning from the coaching staff.
“I’ll get my body ready and don’t do anything stupid,” he said, almost directly quoting an edict from coaches in warning against quirky injuries prior to drills starting on Aug. 14.
Cerniauskas said he looks forward to working with the younger players to help them and the elder Eagles battle back after losing out on first-year playoff spot.
Eaton lost its last game of 2016 to Brewer, keeping the Eagles out of the postseason.
“We’ll see about our ability to come back from that defeat last year and focus on this year,” Cerniauskas said.