MONROE – Parkwood High School went 59 years with many wrestlers coming through its program, but not once did the Rebels have a state finalist, much less an individual state boys champion.
All of that changed in 2020, when Amir Joseph transferred into the school from Monroe, following coach Chris Linthicum, who had left the Redhawks for Parkwood the previous season.
Last season at Monroe, Joseph wrestled at 230 pounds, often competing against kids bigger physically and by up to 40 pounds of weight.
This year with his old coach’s help, Joseph got his body in fighting shape, dropping down to around 190 pounds.
“I feel like I was able to compete a lot better at that weight,” he said. “The kids I was wrestling against were a lot bigger than me last year, so this was a better fit.”
Joseph had a marvel of a season and got hot at the right time with wins at the conference and regional tournaments, where he didn’t lose a match.
Joseph didn’t wrestle varsity for his first two seasons and didn’t qualify for states last year, so the experience of being at states was a bit overwhelming.
“It was scary at first realizing that it was my last chance, but I was like, ‘Hey, you’re here now so do it,’” Joseph said. “Once I got through the first couple of matches, I knew it was halfway through, so it was time to go then.”
In the championship, Joseph improved to 51-6 on the season with a 5-2 decision over Enka’s Colby Maxwell.
With about five seconds left, Joseph went over to Linthicum, shook his hand and then finished out the match.
Joseph became the first Parkwood wrestler to ever win a state title and led the Rebels to seventh place tie with defending state champion Piedmont, the first-ever top-10 finish for the team.
“People around school congratulate me and say, ‘Congrats, state champ.’ It’s not really my style, but it’s still great to hear,” Joseph said. “I do think it’s crazy that I’m able to say I was the first at something. I don’t think too much about it because in my opinion, I feel like it’s a big-headed kind of thing, but I owe it all to my teammates and those who have been getting me through this year.”
While Joseph is humble about his major accomplishment, Linthicum knows how important it is for the program and for his star wrestler.
“He’s not going to take credit for anything and he’s going to credit everyone else, but he’s such a leader on our team,” Linthicum said. “He’s now set the bar for everyone coming behind him. Two years ago, the goal was to be all-conference and to try to qualify for states. Last year, we had a state qualifier in Cody Hardy, who qualified in his freshman year, and Daniel Morrison was a match away. Amir transferred in, Daniel was fourth in the state and Cody was third as a sophomore, which is outstanding. The bar is continually being raised.”
Linthicum said the phone has been ringing this week with college recruiters calling and trying to set up official visits with Joseph, who wants to wrestle at the next level and will now get many opportunities to do so.
But before he goes, Joseph has made a huge difference in his one season at Parkwood, one that Linthicum and the program will not soon forget.
“He’s the hardest-working kid I’ve ever coached in anything,” he said. “It shows every day. Because of his work ethic, because of him being so tough and never-say-die attitude, that allowed him to not only qualify as a senior but win it as a senior.”