Andrew Howe earns Outstanding Wrestler award after capturing Sunkist Kids International Open titleWisconsin junior Andrew Howe works for an edge in the Sunkist Kids International Open. Larry Slater photo.
TEMPE, Ariz. - Step on the wrestling mat against Andrew Howe and prepare for a hard-fought, all-out battle.
He still has two years of college eligibility remaining, but Howe is quickly establishing himself as a force on the Senior level in freestyle wrestling.
Howe, a 2010 NCAA champion for Wisconsin and a 2010 U.S. Open champion, swept Cyler Sanderson in the finals of the Sunkist Kids International Open on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Arena.
Howe downed Sanderson 1-0, 1-0 in the finals at 74 kg/163 lbs. He was a near-unanimous pick for Outstanding Wrestler. Howe will begin competition in his junior season at Wisconsin next month. He competes collegiately at 165.
"This was a great opportunity to get back on the mat and compete" said Howe, who placed second in the 2010 U.S. World Team Trials. "I haven't wrestled since I went on a trip to Azerbaijan (in July), so I was excited to be wrestling again."
Howe rallied for a tough 0-3, 2-1, 7-4 win over past NCAA All-American Moza Fay in the semifinal round. He also beat 2010 NCAA champion J.P. O'Connor 2-0, 2-1 in the quarterfinals. O'Connor won NCAAs last March at 157, one weight class below Howe.
"I got some good matches in against some tough guys" he said. "There's always room to learn and improve. I still have a lot of things I need to work on."
The Sunkist Kids won the team title with Japan finishing second.
2007 World Team member Tommy Rowlands continued his comeback by sweeping Blake Gillis 6-0, 5-0 in the finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Rowlands took 20 months off after the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, before returning to the mat earlier this year.
In a battle of past NCAA champions, Matt Valenti downed Derek Moore 1-1, 1-0 in the finals at 60 kg/132 lbs. Moore opened the scoring with a takedown, but Valenti fought back to gain a takedown for the last point in the first period.
Brandon Halsey came back from an early deficit to beat Brent Jones 7-3, 4-0 in the finals at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Canada's Jeff Adamson defeated James Yonushonis 1-0, 2-1 to win the title at 84 kg/185 lbs.
Japan's Yasuhiro Morita downed Ryak Finch of the Cyclone Wrestling Club 1-0, 6-0 in the first finals match at 55 kg/121 lbs. Finch, an Arizona native, is a true freshman at Iowa State.
Takafumi Kojima won an all-Japan final at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. after rallying past Kohei Fujimoto 2-3, 2-0, 4-0 in the title bout.
55 kg/121 lbs.
Yasuhiro Morita (Japan) dec. Ryak Finch (Cyclone Wrestling Club), 1-0, 6-0
60 kg/132 lbs.
Matt Valenti (Lehigh Valley AC) dec. Derek Moore (U.S. Army), 1-1, 1-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Takafumi Kojima (Japan) dec. Kohei Fujimoto (Japan), 2-3, 2-0, 4-0
74 kg/163 lbs.
Andrew Howe (New York AC) dec. Cyler Sanderson (Nittany Lion WC), 1-0, 1-0
84 kg/185 lbs.
Jeff Adamson (Canada) dec. James Yonushonis (New York AC), 1-0, 2-1
96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Brandon Halsey (Sunkist Kids) dec. Brent Jones (Cavalier WC), 7-3, 4-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Tommy Rowlands (Sunkist Kids) dec. Blake Gillis (Lehigh Valley AC), 6-0, 5-0