A mere moment in time – two seconds to be precise – has earned Central Valley senior Austin Rehkow a place in the history books.
As time wound down in the Oct. 18 Greater Spokane League shootout with the Shadle Park Highlanders at Albi Stadium, Rehkow convinced his coaches he was the better bet to keep alive the Bears’ chances at earning a berth in the 4A football playoffs.
Their options were slim and probably none. Toss a low-percentage Hail Mary pass or give Rehkow a shot.
“They were kind of debating it and kind of looked at me and said yeah,” Rehkow recalled from the moment on the sidelines a week ago Thursday. “I want it and I’ll put it in.”
So they sent him out to try an unheard of 67-yard field goal that would hopefully tie the game at 55. It did and the Bears would go on to take a 62-55 overtime win over a surely stunned Shadle Park team.
It was the third-longest verified kick in U.S. high school history. The kick was 3 yards shy of the longest reported high school field goal – 70 yards and 1 yard behind the next longest of 68 yards. But it had plenty of oomph behind it to easily shatter the record. Rehkow’s kick broke the previous GSL record of 59 yards set in 1994 by Randy Jones of Ferris.
Rehkow’s foot and leg propelled 17-year-old senior into instant national celebrity status with appearances on “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America,” plus having the kick featured on “SportsCenter.”
“Even after I kicked it I had no clue what it meant as far as a national record,” Rehkow said prior to the start of class nearly a week later. “It’s died down a little at school; I know Friday was hectic.”
Just another high school athlete prior to last week’s game, Rehkow gets recognized almost everywhere he goes now. But 1.5 million YouTube hits of the kick seen ‘round the world will do that.
Rehkow’s star status was especially evident while attired in his powder blue CV letterman’s jacket at last Saturday’s Eastern Washington University-Sacramento State football game in Cheney.
“Even just wearing the letterman’s jacket you get people talking about the kick,” Rehkow said. “Somehow it gets brought up that I’m the guy who kicked it and they want a picture, an autograph; It’s fun to be recognized outside the Spokane Valley.”
Rehkow was, perhaps, watching his future teammates Saturday in Cheney as it’s Eastern who has so far at least – been the lone school to toss the 3.9 GPA student a scholarship offer.
He had a verbal offer from EWU prior to the kick and now he’s seeing some additional interest in his leg and foot.
“I’ve gotten a few calls, some follow-up calls from a few schools,” he said. “(Brigham Young University) and (Washington State University) talked to me a little bit.”
Could he do it again, right now?
“It would be pretty difficult,” Rehkow said. “In the game you have that adrenaline going. I’d like to say I could hit it again, but definitely not,” he admitted.
Rehkow’s previous long field goal kick was 56 yards.
What’s made him a good long-distance kicker?
“It’s all in the footwork, the swing, head down,” Rehkow said. “I’ve been blessed with a stronger leg.”
And the ironic twist, Rehkow said was way back during his transition from freshman soccer to sophomore football and he realized, “I don’t know how to kick a football anymore; it took a whole lot to get back into it.”
Rehkow’s father, Freddie, shares the hallways at Central Valley where he’s a teacher, girls varsity basketball coach and a natural fan of his son.
“I will tell you that a lot of people look at his field goal percentage and say it's only 50 percent,” Freddie Rehkow wrote in an email.
“But what they don't realize is that of his misses, they've been from 58, 57, 49, 49, and 46 – distances many kickers wouldn't even be allowed to try.”
The younger Rehkow also averages almost 50 yards a punt.