When Zach Wiens talks about his growing years, there’s a phrase woven so tightly into his descriptions that it could be a signature phrase for his young life.
“I wanted to do that, too,” the Goessel High School senior said repeatedly.
And if he wanted to do it, he probably did. The list of his accomplishments and activities that he submits with college applications is two pages long, and reflects his diverse interests in scholarship, performing arts, athletics, and school activities.
It all started with his older brother, Ben, Zach said.
“He’s two years older than me,” Wiens said. “The stuff he did was really cool, and I wanted to do it, too.”
When Ben started taking piano lessons in first grade, Zach thought it looked like fun and started playing, too. When Ben got a robotics kit, they played with it together. Brotherly competition worked its way into the mix when they played basketball.
Dale Wiens said his sons had a close relationship.
“They did a lot together,” he said. “Zach enjoyed hanging out with Ben. Some of Ben’s friends were his friends. They had similar interests. He wanted to be with his brother and see if he could challenge him.”
Zach said Ben’s choices continued to influence his own as he grew.
“When I got older, it was still Ben, he was definitely part of it, for like music and sports,” he said. “When I got to high school, I might have done football instead of cross country — I didn’t think cross country was even an option for myself. All of a sudden Ben did it instead of football, and I thought ‘Oh, I could do that, too.’ I had a lot of fun with it.”
Zach not only has had fun, he’s had success in much of what he’s done. He was a member of Goessel’s state-championship scholars bowl team last year, has been a state-level competitor in cross country and track, and has earned top honors in both piano and trombone in regional and state music festivals. He earned another honor Sunday when he was selected for the Wichita Eagle’s 1A state basketball second team.
But everything hasn’t worked out just the way he wanted, like theater. When he auditioned for “Wizard of Oz” as a freshman, he was passed over for a lead role.
“I got a few lines here and there,” Zach said. “I ended up being four different characters, which means you weren’t very good because you got all these small roles.”
He’s never landed a lead role, but Zach said he’s had plenty to do without them.
“Maybe if I had really wanted to I could have worked on acting, but I didn’t worry about it,” he said. “There were good people that got the good roles. I try not to get too down. I’m doing all this other stuff.”
This year, “all this other stuff” has included being student council president, playing in the Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble at Bethel College, and filling out college applications. Free time has been difficult to come by, Zach said, and Dale said getting some down time during spring break was important.
“He’s been extra busy over winter, so it was time just to slow down, sit at home, sit with the cat, play with the dog, read a book, close his eyes, and just take some well-deserved time off,” Dale said.
A science fiction and fantasy fan, Zach said he read three books, not one, during the break, and also practiced singing.
“This spring break I started really hitting those solos hard,” Zach said. “Last year I got a 2 at state, so this year my goal is to get a 1.”
As Zach looks toward pursuing a college degree in aerospace engineering, his brother, who attends Bethel College, continues to exert a little influence. Zach’s favorite subject is math, but after taking calculus and trigonometry online through Hutchinson Community College as a junior, there weren’t any math options available for him as a senior.
“I’ve been using my brother’s calculus book that he used last semester and I’ve just been going through it,” Zach said.
While admitting to an early interest in becoming an astronaut, Zach said his interest in space flight these days is about what goes into getting people into space, particularly as he looks at the development of private space craft. He hopes a degree in aerospace engineering will open the door to being involved in that.
Zach said the many opportunities afforded by attending a small school have been worth all of the necessary juggling.
“It’s almost expected to be involved,” he said. “All my friends are involved in other things. It’s just normal, and it’s great. I’ve loved everything I’ve done.”