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Andrew Howe makes anticipated return to the mat

Andrew Howe during the finals of the 2012 Olympic Team Trials. Photo by Tony Rotundo.

The finals of the 2012 Olympic Team Trials mark a day Andrew Howe will never forget.

Howe faced the reigning World Champion, Jordan Burroughs, in a best of three series with a spot on the Olympic team on the line. After sending the first match into a third period Howe tore his anterior cruciate ligament during an awkward scramble with Burroughs, preventing him from continuing on in the tournament, and erasing his hopes of obtaining the Olympic dream.

Howe, a three-time NCAA All-American and 2010 NCAA Champion, immediately marched down a long road to recovery that sees him back on the mat just over a year later.

“After that injury I just needed to get it fixed, so I got it fixed,” Howe said. “I focused on the rehab, rehabbing hard, trying to get back on the mat and get as healthy as possible.”

The rehab process would prove challenging for Howe as he re-tore the same ACL in September of 2012, nearly five months after the initial tear. Howe also had minor shoulder surgery to clean up damage done to it over the years.

Howe’s longtime coach Jared Frayer said Howe had to take a step back when facing this monumental challenge.

“He thought he was invincible for a long time, he could fight through anything and come out the other side and be just fine,” Frayer said. “He really did take a step back and look at where he was going as far as his athletic career and his academic and professional career and I think he sees that he needs something to fall back on.”

This inward exploration led to Howe transferring from the University of Wisconsin, where he won three Big 10 titles in addition to his NCAA title, to the University of Oklahoma the summer after the injury.

“He realizes nothing is promised and he is still working like there is no tomorrow. That’s something you have got to love about him that he bleeds to the whole room, it’s a contagious effort,” Frayer said.

Howe found a new home as a Sooner and immediately went to work in Norman.

“As soon as I would get cleared from the doctor, or they said I could do something new, it was easy for me just to turn my brain off and do it. I just had to mentally get over that,” Howe said.

According to Coach Frayer, Howe has been training hardcore since January and appears to be in midseason form heading into this weekend’s University National Championships and the World Team Trials next month where Howe will face stiff competition with the likes of Jordan Burroughs, Kyle Dake and David Taylor all at Howe’s planned competition weight of 74 kg.

“We have talked a lot, obviously, watching Jordan wrestle quite a bit over the last couple of years, and Taylor and Dake they all speak for themselves,” Frayer said. “He has beaten them all and he’s just got to continue to do what he is doing. He’s added a couple tricks to his game and that’s exciting, but he’s still the same old go hard and he’s looking to break you.”

At this weekend’s University Nationals Howe has posted a 3-0 record with all three victories coming by technical fall. The quarterfinals commence Sunday morning and Howe is looking to capture his second University National Championship. Interestingly enough, his first University title was won in a three period thriller against none other than Kyle Dake, whom Howe could meet next month in Stillwater.

“I’ll get through this tournament and then I’m honing in on the world team trials and I’m looking forward to that,” Howe said.

The wrestling world has now been put on notice. Andrew Howe has returned.
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