Messenger Male Athlete of the Year was three-sport standout

Recent Gilman senior Sam Wancowicz could attempt something few athletes accomplish: Playing two sports in college. Wancowicz has the talent to compete in both soccer and lacrosse at the Division I level, according to Gilman lacrosse coach Brooks Matthews.

"If we he wanted, he could do two sports in college," Matthews said of Wancowicz, the 2014 Baltimore Messenger Male Athlete of the Year. "He is that kind of athlete. He could have played Division I lacrosse without question."

What makes Matthews' assessment surprising is that Wancowicz played only one year of varsity of lacrosse in high school. He also led the wrestling team. 

Wancowicz, who will play soccer at the University of Pennsylvania, said the prospect of playing two sports in college was enticing.

"It's been lingering in my head, but it would be pretty tough to do, so I figured I would stick with one sport," he said.

Wancowicz, who is 5 feet 10, 175 pounds, played three sports as a senior at Gilman, serving as captain of the wrestling team, leading the lacrosse team in ground balls and being selected to the All-South team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

"He was a valuable contributor to three sports," Gilman wrestling coach Bryn Holmes said. "It's rare to see that these days. He's a dying breed."

Wancowicz decided to skip playing lacrosse as a junior to focus on the recruiting process for soccer. He visited several of the colleges that offered him scholarships.

He said he considered the offers from Villanova, Georgetown, Fordham and University of Maryland, Baltimore County before picking Penn, where he will major in economics.

Of the three sports in which he excelled, Wancowicz thought he made the most impact in soccer.

The four-year starter and two-year co-captain led the team in scoring as a junior and senior, recording 13 goals.

"He is a guy that comes through your program once every blue moon," Gilman coach Jon Seal said. "He may have played the most varsity games of any player in school history. He was starting as a freshman on our MIAA (A Conference) championship team."

Wancowicz had some memorable games as a senior.

He totaled two goals and an assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to Calvert Hall on Oct. 2 and finished with the same totals in a 5-0 rout of Georgetown Prep on Aug. 27.

Wancowicz's determination during practice impressed Seal more than the goals he scored.

"He was the hardest worker on the team," the coach said. "He was the last one off the field and the first one on it. He was so passionate about the game. He ate, slept and played soccer year-round."

Wancowicz wasn't content to lead by example as a senior. He was more vocal, encouraging and guiding his Greyhound teammates.

"I usually don't speak out much," Wancowicz said. "But I vocalized more to make the team better in that manner. I had to step it up. It worked."

On the lacrosse field, Wancowicz's toughness and quickness were valuable as a defensive midfielder.

"He was able to get ground balls at top speed, which was faster than most," Matthews said. "It's what separated him from other players. And he played really physical. He was able to create a lot of turnovers."

Matthews appreciated Wancowicz's leadership skills as much as his on-the-field contributions.

"His motor was nonstop," the coach said. "Everyone watched how he played and it picked up the intensity of our team."

In wrestling, Wancowicz improved from 10-15 as a junior to 17-9 this past winter at 170 pounds while placing sixth in the MIAA tournament.

""He was just a hard-nose tough competitor," Gilman assistant coach Henry Franklin said. "He didn't care who he wrestled. He just said, 'I am going to give you the best match I can. If I can't beat you, you at least know I was there to challenge you.' He just scratched and clawed for points."

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