GREENWICH, Conn. – Greenwich High senior Mark Chien, The Greenwich Daily Voice's March athlete of the month, has a habit of surprising people.
At 106 pounds, you wouldn't expect Chien to be a physical force. But he recently finished fourth at the wrestling state open in his weight class.
And being a star athlete, you probably wouldn't think his first choice of colleges would be the Juilliard School of Music.
But that's Chien - a master on the wrestling mat and a virtuoso on the violin strings.
"Nobody ever expects a violinist to be a wrestler," Chien said. "Violin and wrestling seem very different, but each one has helped the other, I think."
Chien's finish at the State Open – along with a fifth-place finish in the Class LL championships and a bronze medal at the conference tournament – is all the more impressive considering he missed most of the 2012 season with an injury.
He credits his coaches for encouraging him and pushing him to get back into shape for the varsity season. Chien said he had to shed nearly 15 pounds to get back into his weight class for the 2013 schedule.
"It really motivated me to push forward and give it my all for my last year of wrestling," he said. "The coaches, captains and teammates I've had throughout my career have been awesome."
Chien capped off his high school career with a 71-28 record. He knocked off the Class M champion and the Class LL and L runners-up in the State Open.
Greenwich wrestling head coach George Albano said Chien was a leader for the entire team, not just his weight class.
"Mark's been a tremendous leader throughout his career, and the younger kids on the team always looked up to him because he was in their shoes just a few years ago," Albano said. "Having a captain who wrestled junior-varsity as a freshman, worked hard in the off-season, and had success the next three years shows our kids that hard work pays off and gives them a blueprint to follow if they want to be on the State Open podium like Mark."
But now that his high school wrestling career has wrapped up, Chien said he will leave the mat behind for Mozart, Tchaikovsky and the other classical masters.
"Yeah, I don't think Juilliard has a wrestling program," Chien said with a laugh. "The sport of wrestling taught me a lot of lessons. And I actually use the discipline and focus I learned in wrestling in my violin playing."