Suffering through a freshman year in which he sustained an Achilles tendon injury and mononucleosis, a healthy Nicholas Joseph rebounded to win a national title in his favorite sport.
A wrestling and Judo performer, the junior-to-be at Novi Detroit Catholic Central captured the USA Judo Junior Olympic national championships in Irving, Texas, last weekend.
Competing in the Juvenile B Division for 15-17-year-olds, Joseph won the 66-kilogram division, going 4-0 to win the gold medal.
He won the silver medal in the international competition that same weekend.
“I thought I was going to be in a bigger division than what I was in,” said Joseph. “I think there were seven guys. Two of the guys that were in my division I had lost to before earlier in the year in Dallas.”
Joseph, 16, beat Muhammad Abdullahi, Davit Arakelyan, Marcus Davila and Edward Akhverdyan to capture the title.
“In my first match the kid never showed but it counted as a win,” said Joseph. “I beat Marcus in the third round in the semifinals. I won that by the smallest of margins you could win by. In the finals in the international I fought a kid that I had beaten in the domestic finals (Akhverdyan), but I lost to him on Sunday. Different day, different outcome.”
In the latter half of his freshman season, Joseph suffered his Achilles injury wrestling for the Shamrocks.
“With three weeks left I suffered the injury,” said Joseph. “I couldn’t compete in Judo because of the injury. We tried a bunch of different wraps for it, things you could put on it to compress it while working out so I wouldn’t injury it again. But it never fully recovered from that summer.”
Because of the injury, Joseph didn’t compete last summer.
Joseph trains under three-time Olympic referee Noboru Saito and is a first-degree black belt and trains year-round at the Birmingham YMCA. He has been to Japan twice to train.
“That was quite an experience,” said Joseph. “It’s very intense.”
Standing 5-foot-11 and 145-pounds, Joseph intends to wrestle at CC in the fall.
“The Judo helps the wrestling,” said Joseph. “Because it incorporates and works in the wrestling really well. A lot of wrestlers don’t know what to do with some form of my Judo throws or moves. The wrestling doesn’t really help the Judo, except the groundwork, but nothing stand-up wise. I wrestled last year at 145 and I don’t know what weight. It depends on what direction the coaches want me to go.”