WICHITA, Kan.—The whistle sounded to signal a pin and the official steps to the center of the mat and raises the victor’s hand.
Kapaun Mt. Carmel junior Parker Howell has won the regional title in the 113 pound weight class, and will wrestle in the state competition for the third year in a row.
“I started wrestling when I was four,” Howell said. “My friend’s grandpa took us to a practice because he was head of the youth club. I instantly fell in love with it. [But] that was just practices. I started tournaments when I was six.”
What Howell enjoys most about wrestling is that you cannot just be physically strong, you have to mentally strong as well.
“I like the mental toughness aspect of it,” Howell said. “It takes so much mental toughness to win.”
Physical strength is also very important to wrestling, in addition to many other skills.
“Strength and agility are two main [skills] because you have to have the right proportion of the two,” Howell said. “You have to be fast and strong at the same time. The biggest part is the mental toughness though. You have to fight through pain and weakness.”
Howell has spent the past few months doing exactly that. After breaking off a piece of bone in his elbow early on in the season, he had to work hard to be prepared for regional and state qualifiers.
“Right now my biggest weakness is my strength in my bad arm,” Howell said. “I have been lifting as much as I can and keeping the arm stretched out (to help strengthen it.) I worked extensively on my conditioning which is back to where it should be. I also worked on my strength.”
Howell wasn’t going to let a small weakness in his arm hold him back from returning to state competition. He set high expectations for himself going into regional competition.
“I had high expectations because I felt I should win this one so I could get a good spot in the state tournament bracket,” Howell said. “The challenging part (of regionals) was having two great opponents to wrestle. My first match was a very close one. It was a tough bracket.”
In the end, Howell was able to overcome the weakness in his arm and the challenging bracket to win first in his weight class.
“I was happy with this finish,” Howell said. “It showed that my elbow is completely healed now.”
Howell will now return to the state tournament, where he has previously placed third the past two years.
“My expectations for state are to wrestle to my very best and win a state title,” Howell said. “I will need to go out there with a good attitude and believe that I will win state.”