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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The work ethic and discipline required to be a four-time state participant in wrestling is paying off in college for Evan Ulinski.

The 2014 Woodmore graduate, a three-time state placer in wrestling including runner-up finishes as a junior and senior, is completing his last year at the United States Air Force Academy with pilot training in the plans following graduation.

 

“I wanted to give back and serve my country,” Ulinski said of his decision to attend Air Force. “At the same time, I could realize my dream of being a pilot.”

Upon arriving at the Air Force Academy as a freshman, Ulinski was part of the wrestling program.

“That was tough,” Ulinski admitted. “A busy day would include going to class, all the military training, wrestling room practice and then studying the rest of the night. It was a grueling schedule.”

Steve Ulinski, the head wrestling coach at Woodmore, remembers the difficulty it presented for his son.

“Traveling on the west coast swing he had to miss a lot of class,” the elder Ulinski said. “In order to be a pilot you have to finish so high in your class, so it was not the best thing for that to do so much traveling.”

Still, it was a memorable year on the mat for Ulinski.

“It was fun and great to compete,” Ulinski reflected. “I had the most pins on the team and had a record of something like 15-6 or so. But I just wore down.”

Instead, he took the traits used to be successful on the mat and used them in his studies.

“Hard work, work ethic, accountability,” Ulinski said about what he takes from wrestling into his schooling. “On the mat it’s only you and up in the plane the same thing is true.”

Ulinski credits his father for the strong qualities he possesses.

“He’s given me all of the values,” Ulinski said about his dad. “The work ethic and the positive attitude I approach every problem with he gave me.”

It has the 22-year-old getting ready for pilot training at a base in Columbus, Mississippi upon graduation from the Air Force Academy. Being one of the top 400 pilot slots in his class was a huge accomplishment.

“You have to medically qualify and have a certain amount of flying honors,” Ulinski explained. “Then you have to score well on the AFOQT (Air Force Officer Qualifying Test) and the TBAS (Test of Basic Aviation Skills).”

The actual pilot training will involve three months of ground school followed by nine months of getting in a plane and becoming qualified.

“I’m not sure what my ultimate plans are,” Ulinski said. “I just want to get qualified to travel the world and do the Air Force mission.”

And while flying is in his blood now, wrestling has not left. Ulinski worked this year as an assistant wrestling coach at Air Academy High School.

“I help almost every day,” Ulinski noted. “I get in there and wrestle with them.”

Ulinski was excited to be part of a program “just starting to be established” with the proof being five wrestlers qualifying for the 4A State Tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver. One — Jason Hanenberg — captured a state title.

“Being from Ohio, I brought another style along with my attitude to the program,” Ulinski said. “I was able to bring a lot of new things that they had never seen.”

Coaching was right up there with being a wrestler.

“It’s a demanding sport that’s really mental, and you’ve got to be in great shape,” Ulinski said. “But when you win, there’s no greater feeling.”

Though, perhaps, flying a plane is right there with it.

“I’m so impressed with him,” Ulinski’s father said of his son. “The commitment he has to excellence — his military requirements, his athletic requirements and his academy requirements — makes me proud. Their motto is service before self and he’s absolutely doing what he was trained to do.”

As for where it takes Ulinski four or five years from now?

“Hopefully, I’ll be somewhere overseas loving life and flying,” Ulinski said. “Helping serve my country.”

 

 

       

 

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