Faces in KS: P.J. Sarwinski

P.J. Sarwinski is a rare four sport athlete and will look to go to state in two sports this week.
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
May 16, 2017

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It is very rare to find three-sport athletes in this day and age in high school sports, especially ones that are all-state and even more rare to find ones that are all-state in four sports until you meet Galena High School senior P.J. Sarwinski. 

Sarwinski, who is 6-foot-1 and 200-pounds, is one of the top overall multiple sport athletes in Kansas as he stars in baseball, football, basketball and track & field for the Class 3A Galena Bulldogs. This last fall he was a first team 3A all-state defensive back with five interceptions in football for the Bulldogs. Coached by his father, Beau Sarwinski, in football, P.J. also doubled as one of the top quarterbacks in 3A with over 1,000 rushing/1,000 passing with 33 combined touchdowns this past season. In basketball he was a 1,000 point career scorer and was a first team All-3A selection in 2016-2017 after averaging 17 points per game as a senior. In baseball, he earned All-3A honors as a junior after hitting over .490 last spring with 25 RBIs while stealing 24 bases. Sarwinski is so athletic that he has played every single position in baseball over his career, which has featured a .350 career batting average. In track and field he continues to prove that athleticism as he has a 21-05.75 long jump, which is just four inches away from being the top mark in 3A this spring. He was also the CNC league long jump champion, last years 3A regional long jump champion and is one of the top sprinters (100 meters - 11.3) and triple jumpers (42-09) in the CNC. You may ask how does someone have the time to be in all four sports?

"It's busy but it keeps me focused on setting and achieving my goals. I love competing all the time in every sport, whether its as a team or as an individual. It has made me mentally tough." Sarwinski said.

Sarwinski doesn't have a favorite sport of the four he plays at the high school level. As a fierce all-state competitor, he enjoys playing them all, but will continue his football career at Division II power Pittsburg State, which is just around a half of an hour drive from Galena in the southeast corner of the state. Sarwinski, who features 4.55-4.60 range speed 40-yard dash speed with nice size and a 30-inch veritcal, figures to project as a defensive back for the Gorillas. Sarwinski isn't just an athlete either. He has perfect attendance, is a role model to the younger kids in his high school and his Class Valedictorian .

Right now all the focus is on track and field/baseball season for Sarwinski as he looks to get back in both at state like he did one year ago. While most kids may either be done this time of the year after graduation or focused on just one sport, he is focued on getting to state in both sports this very week. Can we say busy week? The 3A regional baseball tournament is slated for this Wednesday in Caney while the 3A regional track and field meet is scheduled for Friday in Fredonia, unless weather will move it up. Unless a weather conflict were to take place, Sarwinski should be good to go to compete in both. The Bulldogs will open 3A baseball regional play on Wednesday against nearby rival Riverton in Caney at 4 p.m. The winner will get Cherryvale or Caney Valley in the championship on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

We caught up with the outstanding senior student athlete below.

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Special thanks to the following for powering this feature:

Red Onion Espressoria, a proud supporter of Galena High School Athletics, located in Galena, Kansas. Visit our restaurant at 1699 K66 in Galena, Kansas or see us online at www.redonionrestaurants.com

Galena USD 499, a proud supporter of Galena High School Athletics. Visit us online at www.usd499.org

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Q&A w/ Sarwinski

How did you get involved in athletics?

I grew up around sports. When I was younger my dad coached and took me to his practices and games. I was also his ball boy and was fascinated with the atmosphere on the sidelines. He worked with me when I was little, and I just grew into it and liked it.

What is it like to play at Galena and for your dad?

It’s been a great experience. Galena has some of the nicest facilities around, and the entire town comes out to support us. I have loved being a Bulldog.

And having my father as my coach was probably the most special experience of all. My dad was always tough on me and expected a lot, but he made me a better person. He challenged me to excel because he wanted what was best for us. During good times, he would emphasize that I keep working and striving to be better. But whenever there were times when I was down, he would always be there to help and support me. He is a huge reason that I am so successful today.

Favorite sport that you play?

I don’t have a favorite sport. I just love to compete in whatever sport it is that I am playing at that time.

Most kids play a couple of sports, you play them all, what is that like, how does it help benefit you?

It’s busy, but it keeps me focused on setting and achieving my goals. I love competing all the time in every sport, whether it’s as a team in football, basketball, and baseball or individually in track. It has made me mentally tough and helped prepare me for my future.

You chose football at the next level, what made you make that decision? 

There is no other sport like football – the hype leading up to gameday, the atmosphere on Friday night, the camaraderie. After that last football game, I felt like I had lost a part of me. It was heartbreaking, and I knew that I didn’t want to be done playing football. But even if I never played another football game, I still wanted to be involved somehow. When Coach Beck gave me an opportunity, I was thrilled. I knew this was my chance to get back on the field and continue playing. Pittsburg State University has a great tradition, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Who are some of the best athletes you've played with and against in high school in this area?

I feel fortunate to have played with and against a lot of great athletes while I was in high school. Some of the best that I’ve played with are Gabe Helton, Devin Newman, and Kyler Cook. Some of the best athletes I have played against include Jace McDown and Javon Morril-Columbus, Brandon Mlekus-Frontenac, Cole Burdette-Southeast, Kaid Karnes-Baxter Springs, Ryan Cedeno-Colgan, Dalton Weaver, Landon North, and Grant North-Riverton, and Kameron Wilson-Coffeyville.

How do you balance training for all the sports?

I put in a lot of work during the summer and during the school day in my sports fitness class and after my regular practices.

How much focus is put on track when you have been known as a baseball player over the years?

I would say my focus is more on baseball because it is a team sport, and I need to do everything I can to help the team. But after baseball practice, I normally go to track practice. On the weekends when I don’t umpire, I try to take extra batting practice and then practice for my events. I love competing in the track meets and seeing all of the different athletes in the area compete against each other.

What will it take for you guys to make a postseason run in baseball?

Offensively, we have to put pressure on the defense by hitting well and finding gaps. Defensively, we have to make plays. Our record doesn’t indicate how good of a team we have this year, and lately our bats have come alive. Everything seems to be coming together at the right time. If all goes well, this will continue into regionals and hopefully, state.

Goals for state track this year and if you make state in baseball, how do you balance that out?

Right now I am focused on regional baseball and regional track.  Hopefully, we will be fortunate to advance to the state baseball tournament and the state track meet. Our goals are the same each year.  We want to win the state championship.  In track if we qualify for the state track meet, our goal is to win the state championship in each event that we participate in.

What was it like to get 1,000 points in a career in basketball?

I actually had no idea when it happened, so it was a huge surprise. One of my teammates was the one that told me, and I didn’t believe him at first. I never really thought of scoring that much, I just wanted to win. The fact that it happened in my last home game ever was special but also bittersweet.

What all positions do you play in baseball, is there one you can’t play, your favorite?

I have played every position in baseball, but most of the time I play catcher. Luckily, it is my favorite position because I am constantly involved in the game- calling a pitch, catching a pitch, throwing it down to a base, or providing instruction on situations, etc. It keeps me on my toes.

Favorite place to eat in Galena?

We have two of the best Mexican restaurants around, Mi Torito and Nogales, a Dairy Queen, and the world famous Red Onion. They all keep me pretty satisfied.

How would you describe what its like to grow up in Galena?

Small town, everybody knows each other, the school and community support the kids, and everyone takes care of each other. I’ve gone to school in Galena my whole life and feel blessed because I’ve had great teachers, great coaches, and a great community that wants all of us to succeed. I’m proud to be a Bulldog.

Favorite subject in school?

Math

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’d like to be a teacher/coach and administrator.

One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?

I am the Valedictorian of my class.