Jonas Bukh returns to Gaither for his senior season
By Kyle LoJacono
Gaither’s boys soccer team reached the Class 5A final four last season but lost its top two scorers to graduation.
The departures of Zach Wheeler and Jordan See, who scored 24 and 15 goals, respectively, last season, created major voids, but the Cowboys’ (12-4-1) losses went even deeper. Gaither racked up 75 tallies a year ago, but 58 of those were put in by players who have since graduated.
Cowboys coach Eric Sims was unsure where his squad’s offense would come from this year.
“I knew we had talented players, but yeah that’s a lot of goals we got from players who have graduated,” Sims said. “I knew we’d need to get offense from new people. I was a little worried because losing people like Jordan and Zach isn’t something you can just fix easily. … When I heard Jonas (Bukh) was coming back I thought he had a chance to help with the scoring.”
Bukh has done just that, scoring a team-high 13 goals. His total is more than a third of Gaither’s total tallies. He is also setting up his teammates as illustrated by his seven assists, second most on the squad.
The senior forward played for the Cowboys his freshman and sophomore years but returned to his native Denmark as a junior. Sims said he learned Bukh was coming back not long before practices for the 2011-12 campaign began and was excited to see what improvements his returning pupil had made during his year in Europe.
“You could see he had a lot of skill his first two years here,” Sims said. “Getting back a kid like Jonas is a big plus for us. He’s come in and been a big threat to score. We were very fortunate to get him back this season. Not just for his scoring, but he goes about things in a very professional way. He’s a really good example for the younger guys.”
Cowboys senior goalkeeper Carlos de Oliveira was also pleased to see Bukh once again donning Gaither gear.
“He was my first friend here and he works really hard,” de Oliveira said. “He always scores and is really strong. He’s a really good player. … I’m so happy to have him back.”
Bukh said he was a bit nervous returning to a team that came two wins from the program’s second state championship a year ago.
“I think we’re doing pretty well,” Bukh said. “We’re going to have our ups and downs like any team. Even Barcelona has its downs, but we have to get up after losses and just move on.”
Bukh, whose first language is Danish, originally came to the United States while in the fifth grade, but that was not the first big move for him. His family moved to Kenya from Denmark when he was 2 and later went to South Africa and finally back to Denmark before coming to this country.
“Yeah I’ve lived in more countries than most kids in my classes have even been too,” Bukh said with a laugh. “It wasn’t too hard because I learned English when we moved to Africa and most people speak that there.”
The one constant for Bukh regardless of his location has been soccer. He can’t remember a time when he wasn’t kicking around the black and white ball up and down the pitch.
“I just love the sport,” Bukh said. “It’s a great sport and I just love the intensity. It takes a lot of skill. I grew up with it. Me and my dad (Per) would watch the World Cup or whatever, and I’d get caught up in it. He’d get excited and I’d get excited. Then we’d go play soccer after the game, and that’s what really motivated me to keep playing.”
Bukh has also done competitive swimming and judo, but neither gave him the same joy he has while playing soccer.
“Soccer is just such a great sport to play,” Bukh said. “I want to try and play in college and see where it takes me from there.”
The Cowboys host Jefferson on Friday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m.
–All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches.