For the second consecutive year Mercer Island Islanders wrestler Donnie Howard competed in the state finals in his weight class at the Mat Classic Class 3A state tournament.
Howard, who competed in the 195-pound weight division, lost to Yelm senior Derrick Platt 3-2 in the title match on Feb. 16 at the Tacoma Dome. Howard finished the state tournament with a sterling overall record of 4-1. Howard’s crowning achievement of the state tourney was a 7-5 victory against Kamiakin’s Jacob Olson in the semifinals. Howard was physically exhausted following the victory and had a bloody lip from the battle.
“He is a returning state champ,” Howard said of Olson. “He is is really good. It took all my strength (to win). I’m so thrilled because it just shows how much hard work I have put in during the past 14 years. It was worth it.”
Folllowing his quarterfinal victory against Shelton’s Ammon Anderson, Howard discussed his lack of nerves under the bright lights of the Mat Classic.
“It plays a major role. If you are familar with where you are at it takes that pressure off of you and can change your match completely,” Howard said. “I just come out fired up and do my thing. There is nobody I can’t beat if I just work on my own stuff.”
Mercer Island head coach Lee Jahncke concurred with Howard’s assessment following the quarterfinal matchup.
“He is calm, comfortable and used to this environment. It is not like its his first time here. The first time at the (Tacoma) dome can be a little eye opening,” Jahncke said.