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New chapter: Zach Gengler realizes his past performance doesn’t matter, it’s a new game

Former Silverton High basketball star Zach Gengler is now a point guard for Portland State University.      Larry Lawson – Portland State Athletics
Former Silverton High basketball star Zach Gengler is now a point guard for Portland State University.
Photo by Larry Lawson – Portland State Athletics

By Tanner Russ

For most first-year college students, there can be a lot of hassles: what to bring to college, what stays at home, coping with a new school and curriculum, simply deciding just what the heck to do in life.

For Portland State University’s Zachary Gengler, that’s only half of it.

Playing guard for PSU’s basketball team, Gengler has additional worries unique from the majority of college students, namely to improve physically and mentally as a student of the game and to simply play ball.

“You have to come ready to play, you got recruited to play, and you have to do it,” Gengler said.  “You have to realize that everyone here is capable of doing everything and that’s what you have to do.”

“You have to get bigger, faster, stronger, get every aspect of your game down,” said Gengler.  “The difference is competition and drive.”

At Silverton High School as a senior, Gengler was the Oregon Class 5A player of the year, led his team to a third-place finish at the state tournament and was the Mid-Willamette Valley Conference MVP.

He is the all-time leading scorer in Silverton history.  However, Gengler realized that his high school accolades didn’t make him top dog on his new team.

“Once you get to college, it’s all gone, you go on to a new chapter,” Gengler said.

“You really just learn a lot and look up to all the juniors and seniors, and you have to learn what they can do.”

PSU coach Tyler Geving believes that the level of success that Gengler achieved as a high school player can carry over to the college level.

“It’s a matter of being patient,” Geving said.  “When he gets through the first year, he’ll have a grasp on how long the season is and how long you have to go, and an extra year of weights and workouts, and if he keeps on it he’ll have a bright future.”

The Vikings are 12-12 overall and 7-8 in the Big Sky Conference. Gengler, a 6-2 point guard, has started two games. Outside of the basketball court, Gengler has settled in smoothly to college life.

“It’s started out really good, I like the atmosphere and dorm life, and the city and meeting new people and making new friends,” Gengler said.  “The teachers have been super helpful.  If things continue as they are, I’ll be all right with it.”

While most of the new routine seems to going well, there have been some bumps in the road.

“My most challenging class has been macroeconomics … and it wasn’t that the course was that hard, the teacher was just tough, and he expected so much.  The first real college class was real tough,” Gengler said.

Gengler has a general sense of a career path, and he wants to follow in family footsteps.

“I’m thinking I’m going to minor in business and major in economics. They’re both really similar, and economics is more interesting to me,” he said.  “My family is small business owners, my mom owns three Subways, and my dad does some other (business) stuff.”

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