With Columbus High's Michael Koch, it wasn’t a matter of if he would be a Telegram Super Senior. The decision came down to picking a sport.
The three-sport star would have qualified for any of them.
In football, Koch was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the state as a senior, finishing the season with 1,335 rushing yards, ranking 18th in the state. He averaged 11 yards per carry, which was third in the state among players with at least 20 carries. Koch added 1,368 passing yards and accounted for 29 TDs while leading the Discoverers to a 7-3 record and spot in the Class B state playoffs.
“I was just hoping to make plays whenever I was called on,” Koch said. “When I had the opportunity, I just tried to step up.”
As a junior in track, Koch ran the fastest 400-meter time in the state at 49.29 seconds and finished as the state runner-up.
An ankle injury ruined the end of Koch’s junior season in basketball, but the 6-foot-5 do-it-all player still managed to lead the team in rebounds (6.4), assists (3.3) and steals (1.8) per game.
“It was rough,” Koch said. “All year, you’re working toward districts, then two weeks before, I get this bad injury.”
Koch worked his way back to play in districts, but he wasn’t 100 percent and Columbus lost to eventual district champion Crete in the opening round.
The Discoverers want to atone for that this season.
“We’re definitely trying to reach the state tournament, I think that’s realistic,” Koch said. “But we’re going to have to work for it.”
With three returning starters, Koch knows the team has the experience to accomplish that goal coming off a 12-10 campaign, but the departure of Telegram Super Senior Mitchell Greiner (17.6 points per game) leaves a void in the scoring department.
Koch would rather set up teammates than score himself, and he’s confident the team will find the proper balance to succeed.
“Ever since I started playing basketball, I passed first,” Koch said. “I know the guys around me are really good at scoring, so I’ll set them up and they’ll set me up.”
As for track season, Koch has his eyes set on two things — a state title and school record.
The senior ran his best at the state tournament a season ago and the plan is to do that again while chasing the 400-meter dash crown and a school-record time of 48.9 seconds.
He’s confident he can reach that after posting 49.29 seconds last season with the ankle injury lingering into the start of track.
Koch is battling another injury now after tearing the labrum in his left shoulder during football season. He played through it and intends to do the same for basketball and track.
“It shouldn’t affect me,” Koch said. “I have a brace for it.”
He will likely need surgery at some point, but his focus is on the rest of his senior year.
“It’s not super-critical,” he said.
— Kollin Miller