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The Utah Utes Land Senior Lacrosse Defenseman John Klinge

By Joe Mertens '15, 12/05/23, 2:45PM EST


The four-year varsity letter award winner will continue his academic and lacrosse career at the University of Utah.

OHIO CITY, Oh - The Saint Ignatius Lacrosse program continues to churn out Division I student-athletes as headlining the class of 2024 is John Klinge, who has committed to the University of Utah. Klinge is a four-year varsity letter award winner and committed to Utah prior to the start of his junior season. Klinge has been a member of two Final Four lacrosse teams and will be a future Ute. 

"I was thinking about going out West initially. I visited the University of Denver and the University of Utah," says Klinge. "I ended up choosing Utah and one of the deciding factors is one of my summer teammates who plays for Hudson, Ian Ludewig, who also committed to Utah."

Those who have watched Klinge know he brings a ton of energy on the lacrosse field as one of the top defensemen in the state and is an essential piece for Head Lacrosse Coach Kyle Bernlohr's varsity squad.  

"John is an awesome competitor. He certainly is one of the "energy guys" on the team and gets the boys going, but when it gets down to business in the film room, weight room, opponent prep, etc., you notice as a coach this clear switch he makes to lock into the task at hand mentally," explains Bernlohr. "John doesn't waste his or anyone else's time to finish the job. He is feisty and aggressive, but there is a lot more to John than you see in short glimpses. Over time, you see he has a burning passion for his craft on and off the field and we are extremely excited to see him have a great senior year."

Klinge has been to the state semifinal twice in his varsity career and last year, he was a starter for the Regional Champion Wildcats. Klinge got to work after the Cats fell to Dublin Jerome the previous season, improving his craft before his senior season. "Working on my footwork has been my motto in the offseason," says Klinge. "Rather than just laying big hits this season, I need to break down the game with my legs and stick work."

Coach Bernlohr looks at Klinge's senior year as a season where he can settle into his position. Last season, Klinge was amidst the recruiting process and a coaching change, along with working alongside a young lacrosse squad. 2024 looks to be a breakout season for Klinge and the rest of the team. 

"I think by nature last year, having had to deal with his recruiting journey, adjusting to a new coach and competing for spots on the field, it seems now for John he can finally just settle in, take a breath and focus on himself all fall and winter to put himself in the best position possible for success when it comes February," Bernlohr says. "His work in the weight room has been physically noticeable and his attention to detail and leadership with the younger guys in small group training has been fantastic."

Despite graduating a large senior class after the 2022 season, the Lacrosse Cats made a playoff run with a younger team and Klinge credits Bernlohr and the rest of the coaching staff for that success. "Coaching was a big help in last year's success and bringing coach Bernlohr in changed the culture of this program," says Klinge. "He came in with a young team and worked us by scheduling real tough opponents, which improved us."

The Cats showcase one of the most demanding schedules in the country for the 2024 campaign, featuring a Maryland trip in April when the Wildcats will face Gilman, Baltimore Mount St. Joseph and DeMatha Catholic. Klinge and the rest of the team are chomping at the bit to see how this squad can keep up with the country's best. 

"Seeing how we do against these top opponents is exciting," explains Klinge. "We want to be known as a top team and to do that; we're going to have to play the best."

What coach Bernlohr wants to see out of his senior defenseman in 2024 is to continue to be himself. "I just want John to be John. That's when he's at his best. His teammates love him, his energy is contagious and when it comes down to business, he does not mess around," Bernlohr says. "He's at his best when he's himself but playing within the expectations we give and expect from him. The on-field stuff is a given, but we're excited to see him evolve even more into the off-the-field leader we all know he can be. 

Before heading into his senior campaign, Klinge has his eyes set on personal and team goals, including being named first-team All-Region and All-State and being named an All-American. But the ultimate goal is to bring the program its first State Championship in 2024.