Lucas Koepke never had any trouble taking the lead.
Whether it was in the pool, on the track or starring in back-to-back high school plays, the Elkhorn Area High senior always seemed to be out front.
And despite the rigors of competing in three sports and playing a starring role in the school’s spring play, Koepke found time to excel in the classroom, as well, as he is set to graduate with honors next month.
“I’m not surprised by anything that Lucas does,” said Koepke’s track coach, Cody Christensen. “His motivation and dedication to each and every thing that he does is what separates him from most others.
“He’s an awesome kid to be around and will be greatly missed not only as a big part of our track program, but by everybody at school.
“With all he had going on in his life, he never missed a morning workout or a chance to get a lift in. When this whole thing (COVID-19) hit and we knew we were going to probably be on hold for a while, Lucas asked if he could take two hurdles home with him to keep practicing in case we came back.”
Koepke picked up plenty of hardware at the WIAA Division 2 state swim meet. He won 10 medals in qualifying for the state meet four straight years and capped off a prolific prep career in the pool with a banner state meet this past season.
He was second in the 50 freestyle, third in the 100 freestyle, second as part of the Elks’ 400 freestyle relay team and won a state title in the 200 freestyle relay along with Danny Bush, Hunter Johnson and Willy Pinnow.
Koepke holds five school records and three Southern Lakes Conference records. He broke his own school record in the 100 freestyle with a 47.69 at the state meet and has the 50 freestyle school and conference record at 21.43.
“It’s kind of funny, because I didn’t start swimming competitively until I was a freshman,” Koepke said. “I wasn’t even sure what to expect, but then the coach put me in with the faster swimmers the second week of practice and that’s where I stayed.
“The biggest thing for me with swim was getting in the weight room and getting stronger. Plus, I went out for cross country this year, and that seemed to really help, too.”
Elkhorn finished third as a team at the state meet the last two years and was fifth in 2018.
Swim coach Jamie Richardson said Koepke was part of a star-studded senior class that helped put the program on the map.
“That senior group is super competitive, and Lucas is right there at the top,” Richardson said. “His leadership and dedication were big reasons why our program had so much success the last couple years.”
Koepke has the distinction of being one of the rare Division 1 and 2 athletes to compete at the state meet in two different sports.
He qualified for last year’s Division 1 state track and field meet in the 300 intermediate hurdles and as part of the 1,600-meter relay team that just missed a spot on the podium by finishing eighth.
The multitalented Koepke was also set to star in Elkhorn’s production of “Band Geeks” this spring, but the play has been postponed for now.
Koepke will attend UW-Green Bay in the fall and plans to swim for the Phoenix while pursuing a degree in electronic engineering. His long-term goal is to be a computer hardware engineer.
Like everything else in his life, Lucas Koepke will probably be out in front in that field, as well.