By Daniel L. Chamness
Tuscola graduate Max Wyninger is on his way to Indiana University/Purdue University-Columbus after spending his first two years at Iowa Wesleyan University.
“Growing as a baseball player is second only to my academics,” said the former three-sport Tuscola athlete. “I feel like this school can help me do that. I know I will be a little out of my comfort zone, because, I will be in a larger city than I have ever been. I am willing to challenge myself on the baseball diamond and get out of my comfort zone and learn new things. I have primarily been a first baseman/designated hitter. I plan on learning the outfield this year since I have become more athletic since high school. I know that other teammates will be better than me defensively at times, but I will play anywhere my coach wants me to, so I can get my bat into the lineup.”
The Iowa Wesleyan Coach (Blake Beaber) spoke to coaches at IUPU-Columbus and now, the Tuscola three-sport athlete will be a member of the first ever baseball team at IUPU-Columbus. The school will compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, commonly known as the NAIA. Thus far, the Pride only have two women’s sports and two men’s sports.
Other than his newly chosen school, Wyninger was being recruited by four other schools including Wheaton College, Florida Southwestern State College, Aurora University and Huntington University. He also made an official visit to Roosevelt University.
“When I was released from Iowa Wesleyan, I started looking for a new school,” said Wyninger. “Coach Bickel’s enthusiasm and interest in me helped gain a personal connection unlike any other college coach previously. With it being the first year of baseball there, it is a very unique situation and allowed everyone of my teammates to enter the program on a level playing field. Since it is a satellite school for Indiana University in Bloomington, the funding we are receiving is top notch.”
Wyninger played in a total of eight games at Iowa Wesleyan. He finished with a .316 batting average. He would appear in eight games, four of which were starts. Over half of his hits were for extra bases as he doubled twice and homered twice. He also smacked two singles. He finished with 19 at-bats. The collegiate player also had seven RBIs, three runs scored and one walk.
“I hit a walk-off homer as a freshman,” said Wyninger. “I will never forget that. It was the high point of my time at IWU.”
During the past two summers, the former Warrior player has played in the Eastern Illinois baseball team. He played for Gifford-Flattville in 2021 and Paxton in the summer of 2022. Due to the COVID-19, he can take advantage of an extra year of eligibility, giving him three years to play if he so chooses.
Academically, the son of Rick and Holly Wyninger of Tuscola, earned Iowa Wesleyan Dean’s List all four semesters at IWU. To make the dean’s list, a student needs to have a grade point average of 3.5 or above at IWU. He is majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing.
“I learned that college sports are a full time job,” said Wyninger. “You have classes, practices, games, lifting, fundraising and so on. To get the most out of it, you must be 100 percent invested. College baseball has taught me to better my work ethic. You are competing with athletes from everywhere in the country, not just your hometown. One of my goals at IUPU-Columbus is to take on a leadership role. I want to help my teammates grow as student athletes and grow as well.”
Wyninger, who had a leg injury during his career, used the opportunity hit the weight room exceptionally hard and get bigger and stronger.