SOUTHINGTON - The University of Iowa is home to three Olympians, three NCAA Champions, 71 Big Ten Champions and 118 All-American athletes.
Next fall, it will be the home of Southington’s Amanda Howe, who signed her Letter of Intent in November to become a member of the Hawkeyes track and field team.
“I never pictured myself going to Iowa,” Howe said. “But as soon as I went there I just loved everything about it. It’s a really nice school and everyone on the team was very welcoming. Which I thought was very surprising because how highly competitive they are as a program. The coach was also very friendly and he has a lot of knowledge about throwing.”
Yet it’s easy to see why Howe will soon be trading in her blue and white for yellow and black.
The list of the senior’s accolades during her time with the Blue Knights runs long. During the outdoor season last spring, Howe was the 2017 Emerging Elite National champion in the hammer throw, the 2017 New England discus champion, a State Open champion, Class LL discus champion and Greater Hartford Open discus record holder.
She was just as successful during this past indoor track season.
Howe placed first at the CCC Indoor Track and Field Championship, throwing for 42 feet, 3¾ inches.
After finishing runner-up for the second year in a row in the Class LL Championships, Howe won the shot put title at the State Open meet. She threw 40-7½, almost a foot and a half more than the second place finisher.
Howe later reached her personal best this year at the New England High School Championship as she threw 43-5 which landed her a second place finish.
She then wrapped up her indoor season at the New Balance Nationals where she placed eighth in shot put for throwing 40-11¾ and 11th in the weight throw.
Her hard work and dedication have also earned her All-CCC selection for the last three years in a row while maintaining first honors for all four years in high school.
“The hours she has put in to become an elite thrower in this country would boggle the mind of anyone who is just looking in from the outside,” Southington head coach Connor Green said. “Her consistency and pride in what she has accomplished is what keeps her going every day, even if she wants to take a day off. Obviously, when you look at all of her marks and accomplishments, she’s top in the state, in the region and even top 15 in the country, so it’s easy to see that she’s very talented.”
Howe’s path to Iowa all started her freshman year at Southington High School when she joined the track and field team. Even back then, though, the senior wasn’t sure what to expect for the sport she would be a national champion in.
“I had no idea where it was going to go,” Howe said. “I originally thought it was just going to be something fun I would do during the winter and spring to stay in shape for my other sports. On my first day of practice my coach introduced me to [throwing] just to try it and see where it went. It went better than expected and ever since I’ve been a thrower.”
Green saw potential in Howe her freshman year, but it wasn’t until her sophomore year when she really began to flourish.
“From then on, she dedicated most of her free time to getting better,” Green said. “She worked with our coaches, she saw a private coach and all of her technical success is due to him. We are very fortunate that she has been a part of our team.”
At the time, the Blue Knights didn’t have a specific throwing coach that would help her propel to the national level. That’s when Howe started to work with Bloomfield’s throwing coach Damian Larkins, also known as “Coach Country.”
“He basically taught me everything I know about throwing,” Howe said. “I had a very minimal amount of knowledge with what I was doing and he’s taught me everything, everything that I needed to do to get to where I am now. Honestly, if I never went to coach Country, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Not even including all the throwing he’s taught me, he’s taught me a lot of life lessons and he’s really helped me grow and mature as a person. If I never went I’d probably be throwing barely 30 feet.”
Howe still has the spring season to compete before she gets ready to join the Hawkeyes, but Green has no doubt Howe can be just as successful out in the Big Ten as she was in Connecticut.
“She’s always been at the top of our team but going into this, she’ll probably be one of the top three or four throwers on their team,” Green said.
And as next fall approaches, Howe will be getting ready for the big move and the next chapter of her track career.
“I think the initial move is going to be tough, for any student going off to college,” Howe said. “I think it’s really going to take some time to adjust from being so far away from my family because we are a really close family and we do care a lot about each other but I know that if I need them I can always give them a call.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or email@example.com