LHW: What do you want to achieve that you haven’t achieved already?
HOWIE: Every now and then I look back at our achievements, like the wall at MacArthur and the county titles, and I can’t believe it. It’s surreal. It’s like wow that’s cool. I had a burning desire to turn MacArthur into a top program. The records were never my aim. It’s always been about being the most competitive that we could be and facing the best competition. I didn’t want the records to detract from the interest of the wrestlers, so we always went after the best competition.
We achieved so much. What more can we shoot for? We were ranked number 1 in the state. In 2001 Steve Shippos said to me, “you know what? This is the best high school team that I’ve ever seen.” The next week we went to the county tournament and we had six champions. The following year we’re ranked 23rd in the country, number 1 in NYS. We had 5 NYS place winners. We follow that up by taking 2nd in the state, and we broke the Nassau county record with 13 county place winners.
Every year something beautiful is achieved. And I’m pretty good now, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished here together.
LHW: Of the seven team championships, which one will you most fondly remember and why?
HOWIE: The first year that we won the Nassau county championship was special. We were working hard for so many years, just to come up a little bit short. Therefore, when the title finally came it was so gratifying to express in words. Now, I always believe we’re gonna do it because we have a system that works.
The second time that we won was also special. We had six champions that year. But I remember, coming into the second day, we were trailing by quite a few and only had half a dozen guys remaining. I told my team that we could not afford to lose a single match. And despite four of the six not being ranked, we went on and went undefeated for the day.
We ended up with six champions and a 3rd. And I don’t believe the kid who took third had a winning record the year before.
So that year was special because we kind of pulled it out of the hat, but we also worked hard for it, and the training and the program was responsible. You don’t have that kind of success without the right things going on in the room all season long.