Seeing judo from another angle

Nick Kossor and Kyle Vashkulat had the opportunity to see what the referees see in a judo match.

The two recently-crowned national champions acted as volunteer refs while waiting for their divisions to start at Saturday's Morris Cup IX at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.

I just hope I do a good job so no one gets too mad at me, said Kossor between matches.

Kossor and Vashkulat joined their Jason Morris Judo Center teammates as athletes/volunteers during the day-long event. While some worked at the scorer's tables or made certain athletes got to their respective mats on time, Kossor and Vashkulat -- along with Tony Sangimino " stayed in the thick of the action, acting as side judges for some bouts and as the main referees for others.

"I did it more from an athlete's perspective, so I got corrected from time to time [by the senior officials]," said Vashkulat. "It's definitely a little tougher than I thought, especially since there are some high-ranking officials here today. They're judging you as a referee."

"It definitely helps to put yourself in the athlete's shoes because I know what [moves] they're trying to accomplish," said Kossor.

Kossor and Vashkulat accomplished a lot one week earlier at the national judo championships in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Kossor won the 60-kilogram division title, while Vashkulat took the national title at 100kg.

"It was nice to finally win," said Vashkulat, who earned his first national title in a specific weight class after winning an open division championship in 2008. "It was a tough day and a tough tournament."

The road to a national title was tougher for Kossor than Vashkulat, considering the fact that the 24-year-old had to overcome two knee surgeries and a wrist injury over the last three years to reach the top of his weight class.

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