DATE: Friday, September 19, 1997            TAG: 9709190993



DATELINE: MANTEO                            LENGTH:   73 lines


Goal, goal, goal, goal.

That's close to what Austin Gullett is averaging as a newcomer to the Manteo High School soccer team. Through the team's first eight games, Gullett, a transfer student from Raleigh, has scored 29 goals.

``I can't remember a player as prolific a scorer,'' said head coach Frank Vrablic.

When Gullett's parents bought the store My Secret Garden in July, they gave their son the option of finishing his senior year at Broughton High School and staying with his brother, who attends North Carolina State. Gullett decided to move to Manteo with his parents.

``I figured I'd be moving for good the next year anyway to go to college somewhere,'' he said. ``I didn't want them to miss my soccer games and wrestling matches. I pretty much chose my family over friends. We've moved everywhere, and the more you move, the closer you are, in a way, because you don't know anybody.''

Gullett said he has not regretted moving to Dare County even though his former team was ranked No. 1 in the state among 4A schools.

``I definitely think I have made the right choice. Broughton was real political. I hadn't been on the scene long enough there. Everywhere I've moved, I've had to prove myself again. I was captain last year at Broughton, but we had a bunch of guys that were real selfish. Manteo's not like that.''

One person who is glad Gullett decided to transfer is Vrablic. The Redskins, always known as a strong program, at least in Northeastern North Carolina, has jumped out to a 7-0-1 start. Before Wednesday's 1-1 tie with Hatteras, Gullett had averaged four goals a game.

``We've got him a lot of shots inside in good position, and he's got a very accurate shot,'' Vrablic said. ``He's got a very fast few steps. He can really move out on the ball and has excellent ball control.''

Some credit has to go to the players who feed Gullett the ball, including halfbacks Ben Lively, Ward Blanchard and Nathan Lawrenson, and wings Jamie Bonnett and Aaron Jacobson.

``Ben and I work a lot on give and go. Ward and I pass a lot. Jamie and Aaron are on the wings. If I get the ball, it's usually from one of them,'' Gullett said. ``A lot of times I'll start on the right side of the goal about 30 yards out and dribble through the center, or someone will feed me the ball from about 30 yards out and then I'll put it past the keeper on the right side.''

Gullett said his biggest asset is his speed. He has been timed in the 40-yard run at 4.37, which would make most sprinters envious. Natural gifts aside, Gullett said he practiced to get where he is now.

``I worked a lot this summer on dribbling and shooting against a backstop,'' he said. ``This is the hardest I've worked. I played about five or six hours a day and sometimes twice a day.''

Practicing is something Gullet has been doing for a long time. He began playing soccer at the age of 5 in Amarillo, Texas.

``Playing soccer has been his lifelong dream,'' Ann Gullett said from behind the counter of their store.

``He's played everything from select to recreational. He's been on three teams at one time,'' said Mike Gullett.

A goal of Gullett's is to play soccer at the Naval Academy. ``I have definitely been thinking about that and some people are trying to help me,'' he said. ``I'm supposed to go up there in a few weeks.''

Until graduation, Gullett will finish out the soccer season, wrestle and run track. The other Manteo coaches are probably jumping for joy, too. Gullett was a state qualifier in wrestling at 140 pounds and was all-conference in track.

Until then, Northeastern Conference goalies beware. ILLUSTRATION: Color photos

DREW C. WILSON/The Virginian-Pilot

Austin Gullett...

A goal of Austin Gullet's...

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