Owings Mills native Jack Mutchnik won a gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling yesterday, July 10, at the 20th World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

A red-shirt junior (third-year of varsity competition) at American University who wrestled at his alma mater, St. Paul’s School, Mutchnik, 20, won the gold at 71 kilograms (156.5 pounds). On Sunday, July 9, he won a bronze medal in Freestyle wrestling in the 65-kilogram (143.3 pounds) division.

“This trip has been absolutely incredible,” Mutchnik wrote in an email. “Initially, I was very excited to just be able to represent the USA in a sport that I love, but this trip has done an amazing job at helping me rediscover what it means to be Jewish and how important it is to remember the history of our suffering and how far we have come. …

“I am very thankful to my friends, family and coaches for pushing and helping me to be able to come on this trip. It is something I will cherish for the next four years before I plan to come back and compete again.”

The Maccabiah competition, which began July 4, will be held in Jerusalem through next Tuesday, July 18. The Maccabiah USA team brought more than 1,100 athletes to Israel. There will be 10,000 Jewish athletes playing in 43 different sports from 80 different countries.

This is Mutchnik’s first trip to Israel. He arrived in the Jewish state on June 27 for early training.

“The country of Israel is one that is unfortunately commonly stereotyped in the media,” he wrote. “But being able to come here first-hand and learn about the history, culture and faith that is engulfed in this country has been a one of a kind experience and one I will never forget.”

Mutchnik, who wrestles at American University, was a two-time National Prep champion and a four-time champion in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, the league in which private schools compete.

Mutchnik is now finished with the Maccabiah competition but will remain in Israel until July 18, said his mother, Renee Mutchnik.

“It’s been an experience with a bonus [for him],” she said. “He got to compete internationally, which is something he has not been able to do. He placed and got to experience Israel, which is great.”

The Maccabiah USA wrestling team

The entire American wrestling team of 12 came away with medals in the Freestyle competition at the games.

Mutchnik did not wrestle at that varsity-level competition during his freshman year, but posted a 9-6 record in 2015-2016.

This past season, Mutchnik improved and finished with a 22-16 mark. He was one of five American University wrestlers to earn at least 20 wins and is listed at 141 on the team’s roster.

Mutchnik also made the Academic All-Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling team this past season.

While at St. Paul’s, Mutchnik made The Sun’s All-Metro wrestling first team three times. He finished with a career record of 191-31 at St. Paul’s.

Overall, Mutchnik won 17 individual varsity tournaments and helped the team to a conference title six years ago. That team also finished third in the state that year.

As a senior at St. Paul’s, Mutchnik earned 2014 USA Wrestling Senior All-American honors.

Also at the Maccabiah Games, third-year Navy wrestling assistant coach Nate Engel, who lives in Annapolis, won two bronze medals. He took one each in Greco-Roman and Freestyle.

“I’m proud of the way our athletes competed in both styles,” said Maccabiah USA wrestling assistant coach Robinson Prebish in a statement. “They wrestled hard and really learned a lot about themselves over the last two weeks. It’s a great opportunity for Jewish athletes.”

Jeff Seidel is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.

Photos courtesy of Jack Mutchnik

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