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Sports

December 25, 2012

Courageous wrestler

Ex-Owl heavyweight Nicoll coming back strong from troubling neck injury

Once Brian Nicoll makes up his mind about something important, he is not about to change it.

The former Timberlane standout, who was a New England heavyweight champion as a junior for the Owls and a New England finalist as a senior, made that perfectly clear after his freshman year on the Rhode Island College wrestling team.

Despite battling a painful neck injury, which required three cortisone shots just to finish the season, Nicoll compiled a 19-12 record and finished fourth in the Division 3 New Englands.

But it was not easy and, when diagnosed with a herniated disc that he knew would bench him for his entire sophomore season, he questioned whether it was wise to continue his career on the mat.

“I thought about quitting,” said Nicoll. “College wrestling is a lot more stressful (than high school) and, even though it’s not like Division 1, it’s a big commitment. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep going.”

Nicoll delayed his decision while taking the next year off resting his neck. That turned out to be wise, at least for Rhode Island College.

“The year off from wrestling made me want to go after it again,” said Nicoll, now a red-shirt junior captain. “I was missing it a lot and I wanted to see what I could do.”

It wasn’t quite that simple, however. Because of the severity of his neck injury, two doctors refused to give him the clearance to wrestle again. Finally, Nicoll found a doctor who reluctantly gave him the okay.

“He said I could wrestle again, but he wasn’t enthusiastic about it,” said Nicoll, who has a double major of history and political science. “He said I’d be taking a risk.”

Last year, it took awhile for Nicoll to get back his strength and into top wrestling shape. So he started the year late and wrestled only 15 matches, winning 10. After another offseason of lifting and conditioning, Nicoll entered this season feeling more like his old self ... and maybe even better.

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