Sports Winter Sports Wrestling

CAPTAINS FEATURE: AJ Augustine ’15 and Justin Muchnick ’16

Along with the heat and intensity they bring each week on the mat, the sheer determination of Co-Captains Justin Muchnick ’16 and AJ Augustine ’15 never ceases to impress onlookers. Muchnick and Augustine are the driving forces on this year’s Andover Boys and Girls Wrestling teams.

Muchnick, a three-year Upper from Southern California, first discovered his love for wrestling through his shared passion with his father. “My dad wrestled in high school, so he got me interested in the sport when I was in 6th grade. I’ve been passionate ever since,” said Muchnick.

Augustine, a four-year Senior from Boonton, New Jersey, traces his love for Wrestling to his Junior year. He said, “It’s the reason I got into shape, the reason I don’t hate Winter Term. I’ve made some of my best friends on the Wrestling team.”

The Co-Captains have created an encouraging environment where all members of the team feel pushed to their full potential. Fellow team member and newcomer, Martha Gao ’17 was quick to talk about her admiration and praise for this year’s leaders.

“Our captains are always there at every single practice, even when they’re injured, and give 100 percent every day. Coming in as a new female wrestler with no experience, I was worried about how I would fit in with the team. However, AJ was there from the first day to support me and help me become better. Justin always motivates us at the end of every practice to be better and work harder no matter how exhausted we are, and brings the team together,” said Gao.

Both captains agree that mental toughness is the most important skill that all good wrestlers should possess.

Muchnick said, “The paradox of the sport is that to wrestle, you need to be mentally tough, but the only real way to gain this type and degree of mental toughness is to wrestle. Therefore, the main skill you need to wrestle is to be willing to get your face slammed into the mat, willing to grind out a match when you’re exhausted and sore and beat up. The rest – the athleticism and the technique – can be acquired, but mental toughness has to be earned.”

When asked about the significance of wrestling in his life, Muchnick said, “Wrestling is important to me because it represents everything that I value. Wrestling has taught me the importance of hard work; it has instilled within me a mentality that I can achieve anything – on and off the mat – if I work hard enough.”

Augustine also mentioned that his teammates have played a key role in his experience on the Wrestling team. He said, “The transition from having been on a team with some of my best friends who were Seniors, and now being one of the few Seniors and watching my team grow has been a huge contrast. It’s really quite amazing to look at the future of my team.”

Muchnick added, “Even though we’re a bunch of different people who aren’t necessarily in each other’s friend groups, we all really understand each other in terms of our shared experiences on the mat. Wrestling is sort of hard to explain to non-wrestlers, and even after wrestling for a bunch of years, stepping onto the mat for a match is still really fun and a little surreal.”

Muchnick and Augustine hope to end their season on a high note in Andover’s last home dual with Exeter. Muchnick said, “We’re a young team and a lot of our wrestlers are still learning the ins and outs of the sport, so we should definitely look forward to a promising future in the next couple of years.”