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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
Judo it is for Sudbury native Quade Howald
by Randy Pascal

The choice may have already been evident to Quade Howald. Now, it's just that much more evident.

Howald is a 17 year old recent graduate of Ecole du Sacré Coeur in Sudbury who will be heading to Laurentian University in the fall, entering the Engineering program.

He has been an afficianado of judo for roughly the past dozen years, but also made a name for himself in wrestling during his high school career with the Griffons, capturing city titles with regularity and enjoying an element of success at the OFSAA level.

In judo, however, he would better those results recently, capturing a silver medal in the U21 100 kg division at nationals in Calgary, becoming the first Northern Ontario resident in at least a couple of decades to podium at the event.

"Judo is a better fit for me," noted Howald, upon his return to Sudbury. "I'm just so used to the standing up part. The two sports are very close, but there are differences between wrestling and judo."

"In wrestling, the stance is much different. If you used that stance in judo, you're more prone to be thrown. And the gripping is a lot different, because you can grab the "gi" in judo. In judo, you're always fighting for that best grip. In wrestling, you don't really have that."

"But there is a certain explosiveness, the need to be really dynamic and quick, and that applies to both sports." Though his start in judo pre-dated his involvement in wrestling by quite a few years, it wasn't until he reached high school or so that Howald started to look seriously at the opportunities that were opening in both of his primary sporting passions.

This past season, he dedicated himself in attempting to advance to nationals for the first time, attending the various regional qualifiers and accumulating the necessary points to be considered as a candidate for Team Ontario.

The bulk of his training would be courtesy of the Nickel Belt Budokan, and more specifically, sensei and coach Neil Tobey in recent years. This winter, Howald would mix in a visit to Toronto, working with other members of the provincial team.

"It was only once a month, but it was that super intense training with guys that I am not too familiar with, which was great." In the end, it would all payoff in the form of a berth at nationals.

"It was a learning experience, but I was going to try and do my best," said Howald. "I never realized that I might medal." Still, the hope was that the improvements that were noticeable in recent years, combined with the wisdom that comes with doing more and more high level competitions would create a formula for success.

"I had to focus on my aggressiveness," said Howald. "I would never fight in a tournament as hard as I would at our club. And my strength is better, just because I've been training like crazy. The way I execute my moves - I have a much better sense of what moves to do when. It just feels more natural."

That wasn't enough to upset defending champion Shady El-Nahas in his opening bout, as Howald succumbed somewhat to the intimidation factor of a highly touted opponent. But learn from that he would, bouncing back to get the better of bronze medal winner Yohan Chouinard (Québec) in a bout that lasted 3:19.

From there, the confidence of Howald was evident, quickly getting the better of Alex Hennebury (Nova Scotia - 0:24) and Andrew Blaney (New Brunswick - 0:51). His record of 3-1 securing a second place finish, Howald would leave the Canadian Championships with a clear picture of what his 2017-2018 athletic targets will look like.

"My goal, at the moment, is to go to Worlds in judo," he said. "Some of the guys that I've beat have won qualifying tournaments for Worlds that I have missed this year." Stretching his studies over a five year run, Howald will focus on maintaining at least one sport moving forward.

"With the lighter course load, I can still train like I want to," he said. "Twice a week at the Sudbury YMCA, every other day at the gym, sometimes twice a day, with my personal trainer. But wrestling will have no place for me next year."

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