With a bench press of 320 pounds, a squat of 520 and a clean of 325, Aaron Kruchten is one of the two strongest players on the Columbus East football team.

With a 4.07 GPA, he may also be one of the smartest.

That combination of strength and intelligence has served Kruchten well on the field the past two seasons. The senior lineman is one of the big reasons why the Olympians have gone undefeated in the regular season and have been ranked in the top two in the state in their class both years.

“His strength and his ability to kind of process and think through things on the football field are definitely his strengths,” East offensive line coach David Miller said.

After playing left tackle last season, the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Kruchten moved to left guard this year. At guard, he is blocking more nose tackles and defensive tackles than defensive ends and linebackers like last season.

“You have to be stronger to keep up with the bigger guys instead of being faster,” Kruchten said.

This season, Kruchten has also seen extensive action at defensive tackle and nose tackle. East head coach Bob Gaddis said he plays Kruchten on both sides of the ball because he is conditioned enough to do it.

“Sometimes, I think we need to have him on the field because of his leadership and tenacity,” Gaddis said. “He’s a very powerful young man. He’s a great technician blocking, and he’s become a really good defensive lineman. He’s hard to move.”

Kruchten is hoping to play football and major in business or finance at Division III Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He is waiting on an acceptance letter to the school.

If that doesn’t work out, Kruchten has also applied to Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. He would not likely try to play football at IU, but is open to playing at other smaller schools.

This week, Kruchten and the Class 5A No. 2 Olympians begin sectional playoff action at Franklin. If East beats the Cubs this week and Whiteland at home next week, the Olympians would likely earn a rematch in the sectional final with 5A No. 1 New Palestine, the team that beat them in the 4A semistate last season.

But the player with the 4.07 GPA knows where the focus must lie this week.

“We’re not looking in the future right now,” Kruchten said. “We’re looking at Franklin.”

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Name: Aaron Kruchten

School: Columbus East

Year: Senior

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 245

Position: Offensive guard, defensive tackle

GPA: 4.07