Logan Wisnauskas’ personality belies his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame.
When the Sykesville resident and Boys’ Latin graduate joined the Maryland men’s lacrosse team after transferring from Syracuse, he did not try to paint himself as a budding star or a class clown with his new teammates.
Fifth-year senior midfielder Tim Rotanz recalled that Wisnauskas was “very soft spoken. Didn’t talk much. Kept to himself. I didn’t really have an impression of him because I didn’t know much about him.”
Wisnauskas acknowledged that he is not the type of person to grab the spotlight.
“That’s not really anything that fits my style,” he said. “I haven’t been that outgoing kind of guy. I’ve just kind of flown under the radar and done my thing.”
The redshirt freshman attackman has scored 31 goals this spring, third on the program’s rookie record list, and could gain additional ground on Matt Hahn’s class-leading 36 goals this weekend. The top-seeded Terps (13-3) face Cornell (13-4) in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal on Sunday at noon in Annapolis.
Wisnauskas’ laidback demeanor has humored his teammates, especially during one memorable practice earlier in the year when he stood expressionless while getting a talking-to from offensive coordinator J.L. Reppert and head coach John Tillman. That reaction (or lack thereof) earned him the nickname “Groot,” referring to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” character who rarely exhibits emotion and says only, “I am Groot.”
Wisnauskas said he loves the nickname, and his father said the nickname suits his son, who is called “The Old Soul” by his mother, Julie.
“He just listens,” said Trent Wisnauskas, a former attackman on the Salisbury team that captured the 1994 Division III championship. “He’s not going to be the rah-rah guy. He’s just going to play. That’s all he’s ever done. No emotion, nothing whatsoever.”
Logan Wisnauskas surprised his parents last summer when he declared his intention to transfer from Syracuse after not playing a single minute as a freshman. Though he has said the primary reason he left was to be closer to his parents and younger brother Blake, Logan Wisnauskas never expressed being homesick to his parents.
Wisnauskas said he has no regrets about spending his first year with the Orange.
“It’s a great place and a decorated organization,” he said. “Coach [John Desko] has won there a lot. I was just looking forward to a new opportunity.”
But the transition to Maryland was bumpy as a mysterious illness sidelined Wisnauskas from workouts in the fall. Plagued by nausea and a lack of energy, Wisnauskas was admitted to the hospital several times and visited a number of specialists, and the best diagnosis was a virus that simply had to run its course.
“It’s really scary not knowing what’s wrong with you,” said Wisnauskas, who began to improve over winter break. “At one point, my parents were like, ‘Look, we want to find out what’s wrong. We want to take you and see what’s going on.’ And we did all the tests.”
Trent Wisnauskas admitted that the lack of a clear answer had he and his wife thinking that their son’s athletic career was nearing its end.
“We didn’t think he was going to play again,” he said. “He just lost all that spark, that twinkle that a parent sees in his kid’s eye. So we just exhausted everything with hospital visits and specialists, and then it just gradually went away. … He hit the ground running in the spring, and it was like nothing ever happened, and we haven’t looked back.”
Tillman said the illness kept the coaching staff in the dark about what Wisnauskas could provide.
“Having Logan be patient and wait for that opportunity was probably the hardest thing because he is competitive, and he wanted to prove himself,” Tillman said. “So his ability to kind of stick with it and just wait for his opportunity, I think once the spring came, we all started to see that. And he stopped putting pressure on himself and was just able to play. And when you start scoring some goals and good things happen, you kind of just relax.”
ESPN analyst Mark Dixon said Wisnauskas’ arrival and emergence has helped the Terps overcome the graduation of former Boys’ Latin graduate Colin Heacock as the offense’s left-handed finisher.
“I think that with [senior midfielder] Connor Kelly and [sophomore attackman] Jared Bernhardt, Wisnauskas can do what he does best, and that’s be off-ball and find creases in the defense and catch and shoot, and I think he’s done that incredibly well,” the former Johns Hopkins midfielder said. “… I’ve talked about the increased productivity and development of Connor Kelly as a feeder. Maybe no one has benefited from that more than Logan Wisnauskas.”
Rotanz said Wisnauskas has ingratiated himself with his teammates his deceptive wit and his scoring ability.
“He blossomed in the spring,” Rotanz said. “He’s a great shooter, a great finisher, a very smart player for his year and just really grasped the offense pretty quickly. So he brings a lot to the table.”
Wisnauskas’ 43 points are third on the team behind Kelly’s 77 and Bernhardt’s 50. But he downplayed his personal statistics.
“There’s always room for improvement, but I feel like I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m healthy, and I feel like I’m good, and I’m ready to go.”
Watching his son play for Maryland has been enormously gratifying for Trent Wisnauskas.
“He’s doing exactly what he has wanted to do and what he has been working for his whole life,” he said. “It’s the kid you had when he was 3 and you taught him everything you know, and he took it times 10 and to a different level. He’s having fun, and I see smiles.”