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Jonathan Chang followed his faith this season

Clarksburg senior Jonathan Chang said he wrestled this year with an unyielding faith tied to “A Psalm Of David 37:5.”


“It says, ‘Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.’ That’s something that has helped me to keep my mindset straight and to stay focused throughout the season,” said Chang.


“My coaches help me with my wrestling skills, but a lot of my mindset comes from some of the leaders I have in my youth group. They were giving me different Bible verses all week and telling me to stay focused, especially after a tough loss in the finals last year.”

Ranked fourth by Legacy Wrestling at 144 pounds, Chang earned a Class 4A-3A state title with an 11-4 decision victory over sixth-ranked senior Christopher Nice of Bel Air last weekend at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.


“I knew from Chris Nice’s record that he was good, and I had seen him wrestle before in previous tournaments,” Chang said of Nice, whose record slipped to 45-2. “But I really didn’t know what to expect. I was just ready to go out there and bang. When it was over, it was kind of a blur, but being our first-ever state champion really feels great.”


Chang became the first Coyotes’ wrestler to win a wrestling state title. In addition to improving on his state runner-up finish of a year ago after having placed third as a sophomore, Chang won his third straight Montgomery County and Class 4A-3A West Region crowns.


“Jonathan Chang has placed third, then second at states. Now he’s won the championship to become our first-ever state champion,” said Rob Pinsky, who is in his 23rd season coaching the Coyotes. “Jonathan’s a great kid from a great family and he’s one of the hardest-working young men I’ve ever coached. Jonathan so well deserves this. I’m completely happy for the kid.”



Pinsky is a 1986 graduate of Kennedy High where he was a two-time Montgomery County runner-up under then-Cavaliers’ coach Duke Beattie.


Pinsky said Beattie oversaw Chang’s reception of Montgomery County’s “Richard J. Monisera Award” this year “for Achievement.” The honor is bestowed annually upon “The Senior Wrestler who earned the most Career MCPS Tournament Points.”


“Dr. Beattie returns to the county tournament every year to present the Monisera Award, which goes to the senior who has scored the most tournament points for their team over their high school career,” said Pinsky. “Duke was my coach at Kennedy, so Jonathan winning this award was extra special.”


Pinsky also credits assistants Michael Henning, Will Berkowitz and Craig Fee for their work with Chang.


“This year I was lucky to have a few younger volunteers in Mike and Will. They both worked with Jonathan individually after practices,” Pinsky said. “Craig works primarily with our junior varsity team, but he has coached Jonathan since he was a 6-year-old.”


Over the course of his three state tournament appearances, Chang’s record is 12-2 with six pins, a technical fall and two major decisions. As a 126-pound sophomore at states, Chang went 5-1 with three pins and a 14-0 decision, ending his season with a record of 40-4.

Chang’s 44-2 record a year ago at 138 pounds concluded with a record of 3-1 with two pins and an 8-0 major decision at states.


In 2023, Chang was pinned in 5:39 of his championship bout by then-sophomore Calvin Kraisser of Centennial, who earned his second Class 4A-3A state title with the win. Kraisser trailed, 2-0, entering the second period after Chang’s takedown 30 seconds into the match, but he reversed Chang in the second period to tie the bout at 2-2 entering the third. Kraisser turned Chang with 21 seconds left, using a bar-arm pinning maneuver to turn him for the fall.


Kraisser had similarly come from behind as a 132-pound freshman in 2022 to win his first Class 4A-3A state title. In that match, Kraisser overcame a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory over previously unbeaten senior Elijah Mills of Old Mill High.


Kraisser secured the go-ahead reversal late in the second period to secure his first state championship. Kraisser won yet a third state crown last weekend, this time, the Class 2A-1A title at 144 pounds. Kraisser pinned Liberty junior Dylan Ohler in 3:13 to improve his record on the year to 36-1.


"Losing to Kraisser last year definitely fueled me to be better prepared for states," Chang said. "I continued to work hard and stay focused throughout the entire off-season.”

Last weekend at states, Chang’s 4-0 record included a pin and a technical fall, improving his record on the year to 46-1, and his career mark to 130-6.


“We tried to get Jonathan tough matches all year, and his only loss was in overtime to Zach Garvin of Rising Sun,” said Pinsky of Garvin, a sophomore who placed fifth at 157 pounds last weekend in the Class 2A-1A tournament.


“We had bumped Jonathan up to 157 to face Garvin in a great match. Now he’s a three-time county and regional champion who has only lost once at states over the past two years. Jonathan’s given us a barometer of how good he is for the past three years.”

Chang credits his losses to Kraisser and Garvin for sharpening his vision and revitalizing him for his state championship run.


“When I have an opportunity to wrestle against some of the tougher guys, my coaches always throw me out there to try to challenge me. It sucks to lose like I did to Kraisser,” Chang said. “But you can learn from your mistakes. That’s among the main reasons I was able to remain focused in the wrestling room all year long. They help you to make it happen in the matches at states where it really matters the most.”


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