Howard uses disappointment to fuel his fire

Published 4:05 pm Monday, December 23, 2013

Dowagiac’s Tristan Howard is using the disappointment of last season to motivate him in 2013-14. (Leader photo/File

Dowagiac’s Tristan Howard is using the disappointment of last season to motivate him in 2013-14. (Leader photo/File

Dowagiac’s Tristan Howard had a solid sophomore season, which ended up with him qualifying for the Division 3 state finals.

Howard never made it to Auburn Hills for the championships as he was sidelined with impetigo, a contagious bacterial skin infection.

Now a junior, Howard is using the disappointment of last season as motivation to not only get back to Auburn Hills, but to improve on what he did during the 2012-13 season.

“I approached this year as a continuation of last season,” Howard said. “Last year got cut short and I really didn’t get to finish it.”

Despite the disappointment, Howard handled it well according to Dowagiac wrestling coach Matt Alward.

“I was impressed with the way he handled it,” Alward said. “A lot of kids his age would have been overly upset. He didn’t throw a big fit. He took the news maturely. I knew at that point it was going to pay off for him. Anyone with that attitude and demeanor was going to be successful.”

Howard didn’t see any point in making a big fuss over it because he was only a sophomore.

“I was disappointed, but I pretty much figured there was always next year at that point,” he said.

Alward knows that Howard is using last year’s experience to motivate himself, but even if he hadn’t suffered that disappointment, he feels his heavyweight would still work just as hard as he ever has.

“He is always motivated to be the best he can be no matter what the finish is,” Alward said. “He is dedicated to becoming the best wrestler he can be.”

So far this season, the hard work in the offseason has paid off as Howard is 12-0 heading into the Christmas break.

His goals this season are the same as they were last year.

“I obviously want to make it back to state, but I also want to win a conference, district and regional championship,” Howard said.

Howard, a team captain, has been impressed with the way the team has come into the season.

Dowagiac is a program that continues to rebuild and Howard is one of the reasons it is headed in the right direction.

“We’ve all been working really hard in the wrestling room,” he said. “As a captain, I try to tell them everybody has to get ready their own way and that they have to go into each match focused and confident. I tell them whatever gets them focused is what they should do.”

One thing is for sure, as the Chieftains head into the new year, Howard will be focused and he will try to keep those around him that way too.