Boys Wrestling: Tyler Voinovich bulks up, helps build Olentangy Berlin Bears
Tyler Voinovich had a difficult freshman season with the Olentangy Berlin wrestling team.
Competing in the 106-pound weight class, he tipped the scales at around 92 pounds, giving his opponents a sizable advantage. Despite getting manhandled, Voinovich found an appreciation for the sport and even started recruiting athletes to compete for the Bears.
“It was pretty scary when I started because I was pretty small, but I knew that I liked the sport,” said Voinovich, now a senior who competes at 132. “I lost most of my matches because I was not only small, but weak, too. I needed to get in (the weight room) and lift more.
“I got some forfeits because a lot of times teams don’t have a 106-pounder. I got like six of those. I still enjoyed it so much that I quit baseball to pursue wrestling full time.”
Voinovich has started all four of his seasons with the Bears but has yet to qualify for the district tournament, which is his goal this winter. He was recruited by Berlin’s fourth-year coach, Josh Heffernan.
“The wrestlers lifted at the same time as the baseball players and that’s when I first met Tyler,” Heffernan said. “I talked him into coming out, and he has been great. He became one of our biggest recruiters. I can’t count the number of kids he has brought to the team. He’s a program kid with a great attitude.”
Heffernan said it would have been easy for Voinovich to get discouraged from his early losses. He was “thrown into” matches before he was ready and didn’t get a chance to gain an early foundation.
“Tyler has built himself into one of our strongest lightweights,” Heffernan said. “When he came out as a freshman, he was thrown into the varsity lineup too early. He didn’t get the chance to blossom and develop at the j.v. level. He took a lot of licks but kept a great attitude.”
Voinovich said wrestling has been difficult at times, but that’s what draws him to the sport. He likes to work though obstacles that other student-athletes might not be able to handle.
“It’s difficult and not everyone can do it,” he said. “It’s such a great feeling wining a match because you put in so much work. It’s great to see the hard work pay off.
“Losing is so difficult because you are physically getting beaten down by someone. When you are getting obliterated in a tournament, you have to come back about 30 minutes later with a positive attitude and expect to win. That can be tough, to be in a good mental state.”
Voinovich does not plan to wrestle in college. In his final season with the Bears, he wants to help the underclassmen enjoy the sport as much as he does.
“I like to motivate people to be the best they can be, especially the younger kids in the lower weight classes,” he said. “I was like them and I like to see them improve and grow stronger and bigger.
“In wrestling, you can do whatever you set your mind to. Starting out, I was getting beat up and it didn’t seem like things would get better. Times will get tough and may get difficult and it might seem like you can’t get through it, but you can do it.”
•Coach: Josh Heffernan, fourth season
•Top athletes: Kody Goffin, Niko Gonzalez, Caiden Hooks, Matt Kirsop, Hugh Peterson, J.T. Tompkins and Tyler Voinovich
•Key loss: Evariste Misseou
•2020-21 OCC-Cardinal standings: Marysville (5-0), Hilliard Darby (4-1), Berlin (3-2), Dublin Jerome (2-3), Thomas Worthington (1-4), Olentangy (0-5)
•2021 postseason: Eighth at sectional, 22nd at district, tied for 61st at state
•Outlook: The Bears return senior state-qualifier Hooks (165) as well as seniors Goffin (157) and Kirsop (190) and junior Tompkins (215), all of whom are district qualifiers. Also returning are seniors Peterson (175) and Voinovich (132). Gonzalez (150), a move-in from Dublin Coffman, is a two-time district qualifier.
Senior Matt Barreca (157), juniors Austin Lambert (heavyweight) and Parker McColeman (113), sophomores Ahmed Amawi (113), Parker Emery (120) and Luke Martin (126) and freshmen Liam Pethtel (106), Zander Tompkins (138) and Logan Whited (106) are working for varsity spots.
•Quotable: “It will be our first year that our seniors will have been here four years, and that’s a big deal. It’s also a year with our biggest numbers and that our lineups won’t be dominated by underclassmen. This year, the bulk of athletes will be juniors and seniors. We have been working on building traction, and now we have it.” — Heffernan
•Coaches: Josh Lamb and Kevin Rieman, fourth seasons
•Top athletes: Brian Beal, Cannon Cavazos, Maddox Edwards, Devin Halliday, Tom Ross and Paolo Sferrella
•Key losses: Tamas Eder, Marshall Klingel, Clay Ours and Wilson Zembo
•2020-21 OCC-Capital standings: Westerville North (7-0), Delaware (6-1), Big Walnut (3-2), Canal Winchester (4-3), Dublin Scioto and Westerville South (both 2-3), Worthington Kilbourne (1-6), Franklin Heights (0-7)
•2021 postseason: Third at sectional, 13th at district, tied for 23rd at state
•Outlook: Delaware returns most of its lineup with its sights set on a league championship after finishing second to North last year.
The Pacers, however, lost their only state qualifier in Ours, who finished second at 195.
They return seniors Ross (126), Sferrella (144), Joe Shrewsbery (157), Edwards (157/175) and Cavazos (175/190) and juniors Halliday (165) and Beal (215). Junior heavyweights Ian Browning and Erik Wells enter the fold.
Halliday placed fifth at district last year, while Edwards, Cavazos and Beal also participated.
•Quotable: “Last year, we finished second in our conference, and the boys’ goal is to win a conference championship. We have some tough teams in our conference, so it’s a tough goal, but one we think can hopefully pull off. Last year, we lost Clay Ours, whose wrestling in college (at Tiffin) now. The majority of our lineup comes back. We’re excited about that and think this is a year that we’ll continue to progress as a team.” — Rieman
•Coach: Mark Marinelli, 15th season
•Top athletes: Charlie Cole, John Crough, Tyler Deericks, Andrew Donahue, Broc Fitzpatrick, Luke Fleet, Lincoln Gardner, Neal Krysty, Jason Lane, Dominic Leary, Prestyn Parks, Gabe Pence, Braden Quillin, Jaxson Rosselli and Dylan Russo
•Key losses: Mark Ceddia, Stephen Dirksmeier, Zach Dunbar, Jayce Fitzpatrick, Hunter Ford, Adam Gintert, Josh Slingsby and Lucas Uliano
•2020-21 OCC-Central standings: Dublin Coffman (5-0), Liberty (4-1), Upper Arlington (3-2), Olentangy Orange (2-3), Hilliard Bradley (1-4), Hilliard Davidson (0-5)
•2021 postseason: Second at sectional, third at district, ninth at state
•Outlook: Marinelli tries to keep the focus on learning and getting better with his young team. Liberty lost a couple of state qualifiers in Uliano, who finished fifth at 152, and Fitzpatrick.
Junior Russo (215) returns after winning the Division I state championship at 220. Also back is Rosselli, a sophomore who placed fourth at state at 106.
The Patriots already have seen success this season, winning the DeSales Classic on Dec. 4 with 319 points. Winners included Krysty (freshman) at 106, Rosselli at 113, Parks (sophomore) at 120, Lane (senior) at 175 and Fleet (junior) at heavyweight.
•Quotable: We’ve got a lot of new faces, so hopefully we jell together. We’re going to be solid; it’s just a matter of if the team comes together. We put the emphasis on complete learning because every year you don’t know what you’re going to have as far as talent. If you have talent and they don’t focus on learning, then you’ll underachieve.” — Marinelli
•Coach: Dennis Lyberger, 10th season
•Top athletes: Gabe Bulugaris and Vaughn Fowler
•Key losses: Steve Adkins, Ben Hall, Jackson Moses and Max Nanda
•2021 postseason: 12th at sectional, 33rd at district
•Outlook: Olentangy has five freshmen in its lineup in Vinnie Rienerth (106), Nick Pointkowski (113), Jake Pointkowski (120), Ben Hagler (138) and Micah Krenek (heavyweight).
Nick and Jake Pointkowksi each finished first, Krenek was second, Rienerth placed third and Hagler was fourth at the Olentangy Invitational on Dec. 4.
Olentangy returns seniors Fowler and Bulugaris (132). Fowler qualified for district at 120 last season and will wrestle at 126 this year. Bulugaris was second and Fowler was third at the Olentangy Invitational.
Also at the Olentangy Invitational, sophomores Alex Lawrence (144) and Brandon Ault (144) both were third, senior Josiah Brooks (157) was fourth, junior Jack Smith (165) was third and junior Jack Boyarko (175) was fourth.
•Quotable: “Our numbers are good this year, but we’re young. We only have four seniors and three juniors. We just need to keep getting better every day and hopefully by the end of the year we’re where we need to be.” — Lyberger
•Coach: Scott Tressler, seventh season
•Top athletes: Jack Behre, Cole Chevalier, Idel Ferguson, Connor Garren, Keegan Knapp, Dominic Lee, Zach Leonard, Will Ramey, Ben Tong and Nathan Westinghouse
•Key losses: Dylan Dempsey, Geoffrey Kaminski, Zack Miller and Connor Svantner
•2021 postseason: Second at sectional, eighth at district, tied for 53rd at state
•Outlook: The Pioneers return nine starters including senior Knapp (150/157), who placed seventh at 160 in the Division I state tournament. Also back are seniors Behre (144) and Ramey (132), juniors Chevalier (heavyweight), Ferguson (150), Garren (215) and Westinghouse (138) and sophomores Lee (120/126) and Tong (113/120). Svantner, a district qualifier at 170, moved to Indiana.
Leonard, a senior at 190, moved in from Brandenburg (Kentucky) Meade County. Other athletes who could make their mark are senior Krish Patel (175), junior Kadon Fellows (165) and freshmen Jose Lopez (113), Colin McNamara (106) and Jacob Slack (175).
•Quotable: “We have a couple of strong seniors and a tough, experienced junior class. We have a lot of returning wrestlers and a couple of solid sophomores who could make an impact for us at district or even state.” — assistant coach Christian Hipsher
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Boys Wrestling: Tyler Voinovich bulks up, helps build Berlin Bears