Nick Zwack is a busy young man. As graduation nears, the senior at Monticello High School is putting the wraps on a prep career that, while hard to match, will inspire the next generation of Monticello student-athletes.
If you see his name and wonder, “Where have I heard about that kid?,” think back to the Class 1A boys state hockey tournament. That’s when Nick became a statewide star in leading the unseeded cooperative team from Monticello/Annandale/Maple Lake to a state runner-up finish.
He scored four goals, including two in a quarterfinal victory over second-seeded Delano and the winning goal with less than three seconds left in overtime to defeat Northfield in the semifinals. In a 4-3 double-overtime loss to Hermantown in the championship game, Zwack had one goal and one assist.
Hockey is just one-third of his athletic career. He also was the quarterback on the football team and this spring he is the No. 1 pitcher and also plays frst base for the Magic baseball team. The lefthander will stay with baseball in college, pitching at Division I Xavier University in Cincinnati.
But athletics is only part of Nick’s legacy. He was his school’s recipient of the MSHSL Triple A Award, which recognizes achievements in Academics, Arts and Athletics. Zwack is a top student who also plays violin in the school orchestra. He was named the Region 8AA winner of the Triple A Award and was recognized with other winners from around the state at a halftime ceremony on the Target Center court during the boys state basketball tournament.
“When I started as a freshman I didn’t even know that was an award,” said Nick, whose classes this spring include calculus, college economics, college composition and college English. “To actually win it for my school was special and I was glad to be a part of it.”
Zwack certainly is a gifted athlete, but a positive, team-first attitude is also one of his strengths.
“Without a doubt, he’s a great teammate and a very good leader,” said Monticello baseball coach Cole Deibele. “When he pitches, he’s always the last one off the field and congratulates everyone else. Being a hockey and football captain, that’s helped him learn, and those other coaches have done a really nice job helping him along, as his parents have done.”
Baseball has become Nick’s favorite sport, even though before high school he considered giving up the sport to concentrate on hockey.
“In my freshman year I kind of started focusing more on pitching and seeing a future in that,” he said. “I was thinking along the lines of hockey more than baseball, but once I got into high school I thought baseball might be the way to go.”
As this week began, Zwack had a 4-2 record with 65 strikeouts and 16 walks in 35 2/3 innings pitched. At the plate, his batting average is .343 with 10 RBIs.
“You look out there and he’s about 6-3, he’s over 200 pounds and he’s lefthanded,” Diebele said. “So right away he’s a big physical presence. And he has good control of four different pitches and he throws hard. A lot of times you see lefties and they’re a little more crafty. He’s the opposite, he throws really hard. He’ll hit 85-86 (mph), and by the end of the year when it warms up I’d guess he’ll be in the 87-88 range.
“I think opposing coaches like the pitch count more than anything, because they can say, ‘Yes, he pitched on Friday and we’re not going to see him.’ ”
Playing three sports and being a successful student and musician doesn’t leave a lot of free time.
“There’s not much of a break,” Zwack said. “That’s a good thing, it kind of keeps me focused on what I need to be focused on. To go from one season to the next and be a contributor in all three of my sports, it’s been fun. It’s made high school a really fun experience for me.”
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 631
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 10,667
*Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn