St. Paul's senior wrestler sets lofty goals on and off mat

St. Paul's senior Jack Mutchnik may not be the perfect student-athlete, but he comes pretty close. Mutchnik carries a 3.7 grade-point average, serves as president of St. Paul's Upper School and captains both the Crusaders' wrestling and cross country teams.

And Mutchnik really knows how to win.

He has captured 15 individual wrestling championships over a four-year career — including a National Prep title last season — and been part of two Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference cross country title winning teams.

"There's not many like him that come along," St. Paul's wrestling coach Pete Shaifer said. "He is so driven to be successful at everything he does."

Mutchnik had a chance to attend an Ivy League school, but chose American University over Princeton and Brown, as well as Duke and Bucknell.

He wanted to wrestle with his brother Brad, a 2012 St. Paul's graduate and a redshirt freshman at the Washington D.C. school.

"I have been wrestling with him since I was 3," said Jack, who will major in economics. "Every time I visited a school, I weighed the pros and cons. By the time I got to American, it was a no brainer."

Wrestling for American assistant coach Kyle Borshoff also made the Eagles attractive.

He coached Jack the past three summers as a member of team Maryland for Junior Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota.

"The sky is the limit for Jack in college," Borshoff said about Mutchnik, who took fourth at 132 pounds in the Greco Division of U.S. Junior Nationals last summer. "He sets such lofty goals and is coming to American to become a national champion and several time All-American. He is going to try and get his undergraduate (in three years) and master's degree while competing for AU."

As a senior at St. Paul's, Mutchnik, who has a 154-30 career record, is focused on capturing a second National Prep championship at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., on Feb. 22.

He became the first St. Paul's wrestler to capture National Prep title in 31 years while going 47-5 at 126 last season.

"We had never had a two-time National Prep champion," Mutchnik said. "That's a goal I am really striving for. I plan on realizing it. Winning a National Prep title would be icing on the cake and the last high school tournament I would be wrestling for St. Paul's."

Mutchnik recorded a dramatic 5-4 win in the National Prep final over Judson Preskitt of Pennsylvania's Wyoming Seminary, scoring on a takedown with two seconds remaining.

Mutchnik took fifth at National Preps as a sophomore and fourth as a freshman.

"It's an incredible accomplishment to win that tournament," Shaifer said. "There have been so few (St. Paul's) guys that have done it. He is having to battle guys that are recruited from all over the country that go to those schools. If you watched the final, he actually scored as time expired. It was a miracle and unbelievable."

That title and Mutchnik's strong showing at Junior Nationals gave him a big dose of confidence heading into the season.

Mutchnik's goal is to win more convincingly at National Preps and other tournaments at 132.

The Maryland State Wrestling Association ranks him first in the state and lists him 19th nationally in a preseason poll.

"My plan is to not just win National Preps," Mutchnik said. "It's to dominate — to show everybody how hard I have worked and how it pays off winning matches by nine and 10 points. I want to show dominance versus winning barely."

Mutchnik also wants to be a four-time Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion and three-time Maryland Independent Schools state title.

Both tournaments are held in February.

"He attacks at the right time and is always looking to put points on the board," Borshoff said. "A lot of guys in high school aren't used to guys coming at them all the time. And I like how Jack picks things up quickly. When we teach him something, he uses it next time he walks onto the mat. Most high school guys can't."

Shaifer praises Mutchnik for the work he does with St. Paul's younger wrestlers. He's worked with middle school competitors every day before practice.

"It's not all about him," the coach said. "He is very vocal, encouraging and giving. He is willing to help other kids. It doesn't matter if they are in sixth grade or how much wrestling they have done."

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