MINNEAPOLIS — Last month wrestler Alisha Howk won a bronze medal at the Under 23 World Championships in Spain. A spot on the podium is the ultimate validation for an athlete, now she’s back training in nearby River Falls, Wisconsin letting the whole experience set in.
“To be able to accomplish such a goal, it helps you feel you’re on the right path and you’re doing the right things.”
Alisha tasted success before taking a Junior Pan Am gold medal in 2019 but the bronze medal at the recent Under 23 World Championships proves a decision to refocus her commitment to the sport, just six months ago, is paying dividends.
“Just going all in," Howk said. "Taking this more seriously and growing up a little bit and seeing this as my full-time job rather than just something that is a side hobby.”
Howk is reaching new levels on the mat, by putting the time in outside the gym to work with coaches to train the body, the mind and the soul. “If you’re mentally not there and getting in your own way, your body can’t do what it needs to do.”
Between training and competing there’s not a lot of downtime, but when there is, Howk coaches and mentors young wrestlers. She recently had a Zoom meeting with a group of girls from Florida.
In between friendly banter, she shared the story of her journey and the obstacles a female wrestler will face. “Expect adversity and know that’s going to happen but roll with the punches and get stronger because of it," said Howk. "Use it as a stepping stone rather than pushing you back.”
She loves being in a place to give back, saying that it's very humbling. Howk is proud to know she’s helping grow the sport and reminisces about being on team Missouri in 2015 and 2016.
“We had five girls the first year, seven girls the next year and that was our whole team throughout the whole state,” Howk remembers.
This year, Team Missouri had almost 100 girls, a trend seen across the nation. “In the last couple years it’s been the number one fastest growing sport throughout the country.”
For the next few months Alisha will be training and traveling for a bunch of matches domestically and abroad, all in preparation for her push to the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
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