Howard grows into his bodyPublished 11:02pm Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Tristan Howard was much bigger than your average middle school wrestler. He went from 230 pounds to 280 from his seventh- to eighth-grade year at Dowagiac Middle School.
With that weight, Howard had little trouble beating opposing wrestlers.
“I was successful because I was bigger than everybody,” said Howard.
But dominance on the mat didn’t mean that Howard was getting the most out of his ability.
“Just being fat wasn’t getting me anywhere,” Howard said. “I put on 50 pounds but I wasn’t working hard.”
Howard entered high school with the same weight and a different attitude.
“I’ve been working and getting stronger in the weight room,” Howard said. “I turned the fat into muscle. I’m much more disciplined now.”
“The fact is I wanted to win wrestling matches,” Howard said.
With the new body has come impressive wins on the mat for the Dowagiac sophomore. As a freshman, Howard won 26 matches and this year has done even better at heavyweight. Howard owns a 36-12 record and claimed a Division III individual district title last Saturday.
This Saturday at Whitehall, Howard competes in the individual wrestling regional for the first time.
“He has a little more maturity with his body,” said Dowagiac coach Matt Alward about the difference he’s seen in Howard’s wrestling as a sophomore. “He also has more experience on the mat and the more experience you have on the mat the better you are. He’s also had a good work ethic and given 100 percent.”
Before the year, Alward expected Howard to pick up where he left off as a freshman, but he didn’t expect Howard to roll through the individual districts. Howard lost in the first round of districts last year.
“I expected him to qualify for the regionals, but I didn’t expect a district title,” Alward said about his expectations for his young wrestler before the year. “But being a No. 1 seed going in, I wasn’t surprised that he won a title.”
Alward feels that Howard is peaking and can accomplish even more this year.
“If he wrestles to his potential, he has a better-than-average chance to be a state qualifier,” the Dowagiac coach said.
Howard doesn’t want his season to end this Saturday.
“I’d like to become a state qualifier,” he said. “I’ve just got to continue to work because I can always get better.”
Alward is happy for Howard and his success because of the intangibles he brings off the mat, including a 4.0 grade-point average.
“He’s one of the nicest kids you’d ever want to meet,” Alward said. “But he’s very intense on the mat. He flips a switch. You’d like to have 14 kids like him on your wrestling team.”
“I have the drive to be the best with my wrestling and academics,” Howard said.
Howard’s attitude can’t be beat.