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Jan 02, 2020

Tyler Klinsky Looks to Crush School and Conference Records

By Tim Morris

Middletown High School North senior Tyler Klinsky

Tyler Klinsky has a lot to wrestle for this winter. With 120 career wins already racked up, the Middletown High School North senior can become the school’s all-time leader in career wins. With 14 more wins, he can surpass the program record of 133 held by Stanley Wojdylak. With a great season, the Lion could break the Shore Conference career record of 165 wins set last year by Wall’s Robert Kanniard.

The school record, Klinsky remarked, would be something he would “take pride in. It’s nice to leave a legacy.”

Klinsky, who is headed to Rider University next year, has already won three NJSIAA district championships and three region championships. But there is one thing missing: a state championship. That has been on his mind since he walked off the mat in Atlantic City following his loss in the 106-pound final to Hunterdon Central’s Brett Ungar last March.

Klinsky was a spectacular 43-1 wrestler last year, winning the Shore Conference title in addition to his third district and region championships, but it’s that one loss in AC that hangs heavy on his mind.

“It’s motivating,” Klinsky said. “All year I’ve been driven to win [the state championship].”

As hard a worker as Klinsky is, he took a lesson from that state championship loss.

“I had to turn it up even more every day,” Klinsky explained. “I’m in the gym twice a day. In the summer, I sacrificed hanging out with my friends to do extra work.”

He pointed out that it gives him confidence when a match gets into the third period and is close, and “you know you’re in better condition than the other guy.”

Conditioning alone isn’t why Klinsky is one of the best wrestlers in the state. He has strength and balance, plus he’s a complete wrestler who doesn’t have to rely on one or two moves.

“I can score points throughout matches,” he explained. “I’m good on my feet, getting takedowns, and I can ride out an opponent.”

Along with all those natural abilities, Klinsky is second to none when it comes to determination. That’s what has separated him from the rest according to North Head Coach Matt Sirchio.

“His greatest attribute is he wants to be the best, wants to be the guy who gets it done,” said the Lion coach. “He’s motivated to be the best he can be since his freshman year. He has a great work ethic. He listens and he’s coachable.”

Klinsky’s achievements are all the more impressive because wrestling wasn’t always his sport. He first took to the mat as a 7-year-old mostly to be with friends and have fun. At the time, he was also playing youth football but eventually gave it up because of size requirements. Baseball, however, was his favorite sport. That is, until he began to experience success on the wrestling mat in seventh and eighth grade. That’s when wrestling became his priority.

When he entered Middletown North, Klinsky’s goals were to be a district champion and qualify for the state championships. He did that during his freshman year, not only winning the district championship but adding the region crown to his resumé. He’s held onto those titles ever since.

“Tyler was a solid eighth grader who made a tremendous jump as a freshman,” recalled Sirchio.

Besides his individual goals, Klinsky also wants his team to leave a legacy. He and fellow seniors Thomas O’Keefe and Fred Luchs, who wrestled 106-113-120 last year (they will wrestle up a weight class this season), form as dominating a trio as any team in the Shore. They came up together, Klinsky noted, and want to go out helping the team win championships.

Last year, North won the B North co-championship and, more importantly, the NJSIA District 22 Tournament, the program’s first since 2002. The district title was even more fulfilling because North hosted the tournament.

The trio wants to add to their legacy bringing more championship banners to the program.