“It feels good,” Howard said. “That’s all I could think about for 365 days I fell short last year in overtime. I fell short by two points and I promised myself right after it happened that it would never happen again. That’s all I could think about leading up to the state tournament.
After not being able to execute a move for most of the match, Howard went to a double leg take down in the final seconds to earn his second state title. He said he worked on his take down moves all year.
“It was probably one of the hardest if not the hardest match I ever wrestled,” Howard said. “He is real defensive and I could get anything on him. I already beat him twice, so I had little confidence about myself, but at the same time I knew he was pretty good. He got an early take down early in the match and he led pretty much the whole match. I got away from him later in the match, so that made it 2-1. I still couldn’t hit anything on him, so in the last second I look up and it was four seconds and I was like I might as well try something. I took my shot and I got in deep on him and he couldn’t really get away from me. I took him down as time expired and I was thinking I just won my second state championship. It felt good.”
The junior also won the Most Valuable Wrestler of the tournament for Class 1A-4A. Howard said he was surprised that he won the award, because the award usually goes to seniors.
“‘I really didn’t know I was in the running for it until after I wrestled,” Howard said. “I got dressed and I was asking was everybody ready to leave and coach came up to me and was like we have to stay for a while and I was asked why he said because you are going to probably get Most Valuable Wrestler. I was like I thought it only went to seniors and they told me that it went to wrestler that they really liked. When I won it, all I could think about is people must really like me. It made me happy, I am the first one from Lincoln to ever win it so I am happy.”
Lincoln head coach Brian Kelly said that Howard’s lone loss of the season really got his attention. The junior went 34-1 on the season.
“He did a wonderful job,” Kelly said.
“He lost his first match to Jacob Howard on December 5 at Weaver. The next night here he beat Jacob Howard and in our tournament he beat him again. I think losing that match got his attention and got him refocused. He had a goal of not losing a match which is hard to do, he set that goal to make sure he did everything he could so he won’t have that feeling, in know last year he didn’t like losing in overtime. He has been determined to get back to that No.1 status.”