Sam Voigtlaender does not like losing. So it’s not a surprise that it was a loss that really got him motivated in the sport of wrestling. Apparently he took it to heart, because he just won a 4A Washington state title at 170 pounds.
The senior was one of four state champions for Mead High School, which placed second in the 4A competition to Tahoma. Mead’s 168.5 points were the most ever by a state runner-up. The Panthers finished undefeated in the Greater Spokane League and earned first-place trophies at the district and regional events leading up to state.
A member of the Northpointe Ward, North Spokane Stake, Voigtlaender arrived at wrestling a little later than most of his teammates. His first season as a seventh grader went well, but it wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that the sport took on a new meaning. It was then that he placed fourth at a districts competition, just missing his chance at the regional bracket.
“I absolutely hate losing,” Voigtlaender said. “But wrestling is a sport where, when you lose, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. I knew I needed to do more work if I wanted to really succeed.”
From there on out, Voigtlaender kicked his work into high gear and was totally committed. He started working out a lot more, learning from his teammates, listening to his coaches and attending summer camps. He worked extra jobs to pay for these camps, but was taught a good work ethic by his parents from a young age. They, in turn, supported him by driving him to competitions, and helping him find jobs that would pay for the extra training.
Voigtlaender continues to work hard at wrestling, and also puts the work of the Lord as a high priority.
“Seminary gives me focus and gets me going for the day,” he said.
Sam also uses his Sunday activities to make himself better.
“I have my priesthood responsibilities and sometimes they can feel inconvenient when it’s my only day off and all I want to do is rest and relax, but they keep me active and moving around, and also help me think about others,” he said.
The people he surrounds himself with also make a difference in his focus. Voigtlaender counts himself lucky to have teammates that are strong in their own Christian beliefs. They sometimes have discussions about doctrine, but already share many of the same morals.
“It’s great that we share a love of our Savior,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about partying or things like that because we’re all on the same page and they’ve got my back.”
Voigtlaender hopes that he also has been a good example to his friends about how a member of the church should act. He says his personal beliefs and what he has learned in wrestling go hand in hand.
“Wrestling has taught me a lot about personal responsibility and accountability,” he said. “I’m the only one that can be blamed if I don’t do well. I have to be responsible for my weight, managing my food, and working out. If I slack off, it will show on the mat.”
Perseverance is another valuable concept he has learned, both in wrestling and in spiritual matters.
“If you put in the work, eventually it will be repaid, even though you might have to get through some tough times,” Sam said. “It’s the same with the Lord. He promises that if I keep reading my scriptures and praying, and all those other things like going to seminary, that He will always be with me. I get a lot of comfort from that.”
Now that Voigtlaender has won State, he is looking ahead to college and planning a few recruiting visits in the next couple of months. He wants to focus on schools that not only offer a good wrestling program, but also have a good academics program. He also plans on a mission.
“Our coach says that we are ‘student athletes’ which means that ‘student’ still comes first, so they expect us to do our work,” Sam said. “I’m not always the top student, but I like to challenge myself with AP classes, and I do pretty well.”
Voigtlaender plans to go into pre-med studies. He also enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, canoeing and fishing.
Voigtlaender keeps his days busy with wrestling, studying, church activities, managing his weight and workouts – but one thing he never forgets is his priority to the Lord.
“Heavenly Father is a part of my daily plan,” he said.