Kicker shines in prime time
Benike, former RCTC star, perfect for Iowa State
By Pat Ruff
It was for nights like this that Adam Benike had yearned to take his field goal kicking to the highest collegiate level.
It was the reason he searched three straight years, far and wide, for a place to kick. There was a failed tryout at Colorado State, a tryout that never happened at Arizona State, inquiries to other colleges, followed by more sniffing around. Finally, the former Rochester John Marshall standout settled on Rochester Community and Technical College for a season. It was a wise move. Benike was named a junior college All-American and his team won a national championship.
Doors opened. Purdue showed interest, and so did Iowa State. The Cyclones were most in need of a kicker, however, and the Benike family has a history at Iowa State. So the choice became easy. Adam was bound for Ames, Iowa.
Dream come true
After practicing with the team for a season, his dream came true. Benike, thanks to a consistent showing in spring practice, had earned the starting job.
"There is definitely a lot of time commitment involved," Benike said. "But playing Division I football is a blast, and it had been a goal of mine for a long time."
His spring practice showing set the tone for what so far has been the biggest night of his life. We're talking about last Saturday. Waiting for Benike was a veritable feast.
There he was, walking through the players' tunnel at famed Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. What he'd find when the light showed at the end of that path was a stadium brimming with fans delirious over the start of the college football season. What he'd also find was the opposition, a pack of guys clad in some of the most renowned college uniforms in this game.
Iowa State was taking on perennial powerhouse Florida State, the No. 3 ranked team in the country. Not a bad indoctrination to big-time college football.
Stay cool, focused
Now, if Benike were playing a position where he could let his emotions run through him like electric currents, he'd have done it. But he's not and he knows better. He's a kicker. Kicker's don't feed off emotions, they malfunction from them. When your job is to boot a ball through narrow uprights, with large men charging at you, and you get only a handful of shots at it a game, keeping an even keel is more vital than remembering your shoes.
"As a kicker, you're there to do a job, and you have to have the mentality that you can block everything out," he said. "You miss out on some things that way, but you don't want to be playing with your emotions at all."
Benike did his best to enter his own world at game time. But he is human. That meant he didn't keep his eyes and ears closed the entire way Saturday night. He allowed himself to grab snatches of the wild atmosphere that encircled a wild game.
"I got a chance to enjoy it," Benike said. "Just walking through Arrowhead Stadium, and seeing the Kansas City Chiefs stuff on everything, and all of the tradition there -- it was amazing. Plus, we were playing one of the premier football teams in the country…"
; Perfect performance
Benike filtered out just enough of the crazy stuff, because his performance on this night was perfect. He connected on his only field-goal try, from 33 yards, and made all four of his extra points. That showing played a large part in the 22-point underdog Cyclones just missing on what would have been a colossal upset. On the final play of the game, Florida State stopped them at the goal line and held on for a 38-31 win.
It went down as a loss for Iowa State in the record books. But for Benike, there was a whole lot of win there. All you had to do was watch him the next few days.
"That first game is the most critical one for a kicker," said Iowa State special teams coach Terry Allen. "He kicked better (Tuesday) night in practice than he has since he's been here. Having a little success goes a long way."