What’s a day off?
Drew Christo doesn’t know.
He's always been a multi-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball, but the Elkhorn senior took his time commitment to a new level in 2021. From the start of football practice in August to the final out of the baseball season in May, Christo never slowed down.
He helped Elkhorn win a Class B football state title on Nov. 20, and quickly suited up for the basketball team two weeks later. Elkhorn made deep run to the state title game, but fell short in a loss to Beatrice on March 13. Five days later, Christo tossed three scoreless innings in Elkhorn’s baseball season opener.
Whether it’s been a practice, game or team activity, Christo gave his all to Elkhorn High School this year. That tenacity is what makes Christo so great, and it’s why he captains the Lincoln Journal Star’s 2021 Super-State baseball team.
“I think this year there were three days where I went right home for school, and I think every other day I was either at a practice or a game after school before I went home,” Christo said.
“I’ve never really seen it as an inconvenience.”
Christo is one of the best high school baseball players to come through Nebraska in years, so much so that 15 to 20 MLB scouts turned up for his three-inning outing against Omaha Skutt on March 18. That sort of professional attention has since become commonplace for Christo, but just four years ago he never would have imagined the peaks of his high school career.
When Christo arrived at Elkhorn as a 14-year-old, he kept his head down and simply tried to find his footing, as many freshmen do. Christo hadn’t quite grown into his frame yet, and he earned the nickname “Bambi” as a freshman due to an unfortunate habit of tripping over objects or even his own feet.
Christo appeared in 24 varsity games as a freshman, and sure enough, that experience helped him come into his own as a baseball player.
“We knew he was pretty talented but wanted to make sure he was ready, so he started down on the JV team,” Elkhorn coach Kyle McCright said. “I think it took us about two games to figure out he was good enough to play varsity as a freshman.”
Christo credits McCright, his coach for all four years of high school, for helping him grow as a player, along with his personal pitching coach, Tom Oldham, whom Christo has worked with since the seventh grade. Perhaps the biggest influence on Christo’s baseball career has come from his father, former Nebraska quarterback Monte Christo.
As a child looking up to his father, Christo fell in love with football as his favorite sport initially. But, when Christo joined more competitive baseball teams and went to all-star games representing the state of Nebraska, he began to realize baseball might be the sport for him.
For both father and son, that works just fine.
“My dad was a key coach for me from tee ball through middle school,” Christo said. “He’s sending me videos and breaking down my videos when I pitch even now, and we talk about it all the time. He’s still an active coach in my life and I’m very thankful for that.”
A strong sophomore season earned Christo a dream scholarship offer from Nebraska, but when COVID-19 eliminated his junior year, Christo took his talents on the road with the Nebraska Prospects. A 95-mph fastball and success at prospect showcases caught the eyes of professional scouts, and Christo went from a simple high school athlete to a potential MLB Draft pick.
That national attention may have followed Christo during his senior baseball season, but it didn’t affect him in any way. Christo routinely overpowered opponents during his starts as he finished the season with a 0.43 earned-run average. In 48 2/3 innings of work, Christo combined to allow just 37 baserunners while recording a state-high 92 strikeouts.
“We can practice all we want to face a guy like that, but we knew it was going to be an uphill battle,” said Ralston coach Tom Cooper. “He is such an imposing figure when he is on the mound, so all we really told our guys is to get in there and compete and enjoy the opportunity that you have to go against the best.”
After making state championship games in football and basketball, it was disappointing for Christo and the rest of Elkhorn’s talented senior class to fall short in baseball. However, the future is bright for Christo.
He’ll spend a few weeks of his summer staying sharp by playing for the Ohio Warhawks, then it’s onto the MLB Draft combine in North Carolina during late June. It’s hard to say what round Christo will be selected in, but he’s familiar with many of the other top high school draft prospects. That includes potential top-five picks Marcelo Mayer and Jordan Lawlar, who Christo pitched against over the summer.
“They’re a combined 0-for-3 against me with two strikeouts, so that’ll be pretty neat when I see them sign for $7 million,” Christo said jokingly.
While the MLB Draft on July 11-13 will be an exciting time for Christo and his family, it will also necessitate a major life decision. One path involves guaranteed money and a minor-league contract, and the other path involves playing for a nationally ranked Husker baseball program having one of its best seasons in recent memory.
“When Bolt got here, his first day he called me and gave me his recruiting pitch. He told me, ‘I know there’s a lot of good high baseball kids that come through this state and not a lot of them come to Nebraska,’” Christo said. “I think myself and all the other recruits are pretty stoked to go there.”
Regardless of what path he chooses, Christo is assured of one thing — he’s an athletic legend at Elkhorn. Since he graduated a few weeks ago, Christo has still found his way back to the school. He’s helped out with the school’s baseball and football camps, perhaps inspiring a future generation of Antlers to pursue their athletic dreams.
Christo remembers looking up to former Elkhorn athletes like Chris Weber or Trevor Roach, and now it’s his turn to be the example of success.
“After going through it, it’s pretty cool to think there might be some kids out there doing the same thing for me and my teammates,” Christo said.
For McCright, there’s no better example of Christo’s character than the fact that even weeks after graduating, he still returns in his free time to help others and put in work.
After all, Christo doesn’t take days off.
“He doesn’t owe us anything and he was out at our little kids baseball camp helping the kids get better this week,” McCright said. "That’s just what kind of individual he is — he’s very caring, giving and just as unselfish as they come. They don’t make many like him, and we were lucky enough to have him in our program.”
Meet the first-team Super-Staters from a baseball season that marked a return to spring sports
𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙏𝘼𝙄𝙉 /// 𝘿𝙍𝙀𝙒 𝘾𝙃𝙍𝙄𝙎𝙏𝙊, 𝙋, 𝙀𝙇𝙆𝙃𝙊𝙍𝙉
𝙇𝘼𝙉𝘿𝙊𝙉 𝙈𝙀𝙔𝙀𝙍, 𝙐, 𝙉𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙨
𝘾𝘼𝘿𝙀 𝘽𝘼𝙍𝙏𝙊𝙉, 𝙋, 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝙎𝙠𝙪𝙩𝙩
College: Emporia State
The buzz: Opposing hitters had very little chance against Barton this season. The Omaha Skutt senior posted a 9-0 record while allowing just two earned runs for a state-best 0.30 earned-run average. When he wasn't pitching, Barton started at shortstop and hit .319.
𝑵𝑨𝑻𝑬 𝑴𝑶𝑸𝑼𝑰𝑵, 𝑷, 𝑴𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝑺𝒐𝒖𝒕𝒉
The buzz: Millard South wouldn’t have won a Class A state title if not for the success of its pitching ace. Moquin's 9-1 record included two pivotal wins at the state tournament, and he struck out a total of 48 batters in 55 innings pitched.
𝙅𝘼𝙓𝙊𝙉 𝙅𝙀𝙇𝙆𝙄𝙉, 𝙋, 𝘽𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙫𝙪𝙚 𝙒𝙚𝙨𝙩
College: South Mountain (Arizona) CC
The buzz: Eleven of Jelkin’s 12 pitching appearances this season ended with opponents scoring one run or fewer. A lively fastball and dominant mix of breaking pitches helped him finish the season 5-0 with 80 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.20.
𝙅𝘼𝙓𝙎𝙊𝙉 𝘾𝘼𝙃𝙊𝙔, 𝙋, 𝙈𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙒𝙚𝙨𝙩
The buzz: Cahoy’s success with breaking pitches made him one of the best strikeout artists in the state this season. He posted a 5-1 record and a 1.42 earned-run average, but most impressive was Cahoy’s 73 strikeouts over 44 innings, a rate of 1.66 strikeouts per frame.
𝙅𝘼𝘾𝙆 𝘽𝙇𝘼𝙉𝘿, 𝘾, 𝘽𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙫𝙪𝙚 𝙒𝙚𝙨𝙩
College: Allen County (Kansas) CC
The buzz: Bland played many different positions for Bellevue West this season, and his versatility helped the senior slot right in at catcher. He was one of the Thunderbirds’ most consistent hitters as he finished the season hitting .389 with 31 RBIs.
𝘾𝘼𝙈 𝙆𝙊𝙕𝙀𝘼𝙇, 𝙄𝙁, 𝙈𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝
The buzz: Despite playing his first varsity season as a sophomore, Kozeal quickly established himself as one of the state’s best players. The Millard South shortstop led his team in batting average (.376), slugging percentage (.592) and home runs (five), while impressively striking out just five times in 149 plate appearances.
𝙉𝙊𝙇𝘼𝙉 𝙎𝘼𝙄𝙇𝙊𝙍𝙎, 𝙄𝙁, 𝙍𝙖𝙡𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙣
The buzz: One of the best power hitters in the entire state, Sailors recorded a hit in 30 of his 31 games this season. The Creighton commit’s seven home runs were second-best in the state, while his .476 batting average and 39 RBIs were also good for top-10 marks.
𝙅𝘼𝘾𝙆𝙎𝙊𝙉 𝙏𝙍𝙊𝙐𝙏, 𝙄𝙁, 𝙋𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙤 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝
College: Northeastern (Kansas) Junior College
The buzz: Trout may be a three-sport athlete, but this baseball season was his best yet as he helped lead Papillion-La Vista South to the state tournament. His .472 batting average was among the top 10 in the state, and he also led the Titans with 29 RBIs and 11 extra-base hits.
𝙆𝙀𝙀𝙂𝘼𝙉 𝘽𝙍𝙄𝙉𝙆, 𝙄𝙁, 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙣 𝙀𝙖𝙨𝙩
The buzz: Brink spent most of the season hitting .500 or better, which is a tremendous accomplishment against Class A’s high-quality pitching. Brink still finished with the best average of any Class A player at .481, and his team-best five home runs and 38 RBIs helped Lincoln East make a run at the state tournament.
𝙃𝘼𝙔𝘿𝙀𝙉 𝙇𝙀𝙒𝙄𝙎, 𝙊𝙁, 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚 𝙑𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙮
The buzz: After a stellar freshman season, the Nebraska baseball commit blossomed into one of the state’s best hitters as a junior. Lewis’ .507 batting average was second-best in the state, while his six home runs and 30 RBIs single-handedly won games for Platte Valley.
𝘾𝘼𝙈 𝙈𝘼𝘿𝙎𝙀𝙉, 𝙊𝙁, 𝘽𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙫𝙪𝙚 𝙒𝙚𝙨𝙩
College: Wayne State
The buzz: The engine behind much of Bellevue West’s success this season, Madsen relished his role as the Thunderbirds’ leadoff batter. Madsen hit .382 with four home runs and 21 RBIs, while making a big impact with his lockdown defense in center field as well.
𝙈𝘼𝙓 𝘽𝙐𝙀𝙏𝙏𝙀𝙉𝘽𝘼𝘾𝙆, 𝙊𝙁, 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙩
The buzz: There were no growing pains for Buettenback in his first varsity season as the sophomore quickly became Southeast’s best hitter. The NU baseball recruit hit .452 in a leadoff role, while fast hands at the plate, speed and defensive positioning are among his strengths.
𝙆𝘼𝙇𝙀 𝙅𝙀𝙉𝙎𝙀𝙉, 𝙐, 𝘾𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙡 𝘾𝙞𝙩𝙮/𝙁𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙤𝙣/𝘾𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙖
The buzz: The reason behind Central City/Fullerton/Centura’s first-ever state tournament appearance as a co-op is simple — it had the best hitter statistically. Jensen not only impressed on the mound with an 11-0 record and 0.78 ERA, but he also led the state in batting average (.552), home runs (eight) and on-base percentage (.617).
𝘽𝙍𝘼𝙔𝘿𝙀𝙉 𝙎𝙈𝙄𝙏𝙃, 𝙐, 𝙈𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝
The buzz: As one of Millard South’s most versatile players, Smith only committed one error all season while splitting time between catcher and the outfield. The junior led Millard South in RBIs with 41, and his .333 batting average showed his value as the team’s leadoff hitter.
𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙃𝙀𝙒 𝙂𝙐𝙏𝙃𝙈𝙄𝙇𝙇𝙀𝙍, 𝙐, 𝙈𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝
The buzz: Guthmiller played a big role on Millard South’s title-winning team as an experienced bat in the middle of the order. The future Husker hit .345 with 28 RBIs while leading the team in walks (23) and stolen bases (17).
𝙀𝙇𝙄 𝙎𝙈𝘼𝙇𝙇, 𝙐, 𝙀𝙡𝙠𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝
The buzz: Small began the season as a catcher, but a move to shortstop helped the sophomore develop even quicker. His .455 batting average, six home runs and 46 RBIs this season made him one of the state’s toughest power hitters to get out.