Photo courtesy of Jamie Childress Mercer Island Islanders wrestler Donnie Howard (top) gains the upper hand against Juanita’s Nate Martin on Jan. 26. Howard earned a 6-0 win against Martin.

Howard is determined to place at the Mat Classic

In February 2016, Mercer Island freshman grappler Donnie Howard earned a berth at the Mat Classic Class 3A state tournament with a third place finish at regionals in the 182-pound division.

Unfortunately for Howard, a pre-planned family trip didn’t allow him to compete at the state tournament.

Howard, who said he has compiled a 10-0 record thus far during the 2016-17 regular season season in the 182-pound weight division, is striving to compete at the Mat Classic on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at the Tacoma Dome as a sophomore. Howard has to surpass the gauntlet of a formidable regional tournament in order to attain his goal.

“I’m super excited about the opportunity. I have a tough region this year and I’m hoping to make it to state. I want to make it to state and place at state,” Howard said with a smile.

Howard enjoys wrestling in the 182-pound weight division.

“Matches are about technique and the other portion is strength and quickness. If you can be quicker than your opponent and have more technique than them then you can win most of our matches at the upper weights,” Howard said.

Wrestling is in Howard’s blood. His older brother Trevor won a Class 3A state championship in the 275-pound weight class in 1997. Trevor wrestled collegiately for Syracuse University.

“I was raised in a wrestling family,” Howard said.

Howard utilizes a unique strategy in the wrestling circle that is rare for most grapplers. Typically when a wrestler is behind in a match after the first or second round, they will choose the down position if given the opportunity. It gives wrestlers an opportunity to record a valuable point if they can register an escape point.

Howard doesn’t enjoy being in the down position.

“I really love the neutral position. I’m comfortable all the time on my feet. That is where I like to work. When I’m neutral (position) I try to distract my opponent in as many ways as possible to get their mind off their legs so when I do shoot (single, double leg takedown), they’re not expecting it,” he said. “When I’m on the bottom (down position) and I’m wrestling a tough wrestler it is a lot harder to escape. I feel like I have an advantage when I’m in the neutral position.”

[flipp]

More in Sports

Mercer Island gymnastics have solid showing at dual-meet

Islanders earn a team score of 160.4, sophomore Rachel Ressmeyer finishes third in all-around.

Boys swim and dive team makes a splash in victory over Bellevue

The Mercer Island boys swim and dive team opened its new season… Continue reading

Mercer Island basketball teams hit the hardwood

The Islanders boys and girls basketball season began on the road against Issaquah on Dec. 3.

Amateur tennis team from Mercer Island wins national championship at California tournament

Play2Nguyen, an amateur tennis team from Mercer Island, won the 4.5 division… Continue reading

Mercer Island gymnastics tumbling into new season

The Islanders will be led by new head coach Olivia Harvey.

Mercer Island swim and dive finishes third at district meet

The Mercer Island girls swim and dive team finished third at the… Continue reading

Football results: Week 10

Following are the prep football results from Nov. 7-8 for the teams… Continue reading

Mercer Island boys water polo team ends regular season on a high note

The Islanders begin their postseason with a state tournament match against Newport on Nov. 14.

Mercer Island volleyball season ends with loss to Lake Washington

The Islanders lost 3-2 in a loser-out 3A KingCo tournament game on Nov. 7.