LaGrange’s Tayvon Howard signs to wrestle at the next level

Published 8:40 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

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LaGrange wrestling is on the rise and senior Tayvon Howard is a big reason why. The Granger mauler enjoyed a spectacular final season in which he won 50 matches with 39 pins. Howard will be departing LaGrange to attend Waldorf University all the way in Forest City, Iowa. 

“The coach was super nice and funny and a lot like coach (Michael) Pharis,” Howard said with a laugh. “The more I kept talking with the coach, the more I realized Waldorf was the place for me.”

Pharis was only the coach of the team during Howard’s senior season, but they made quite the impression on each other with Pharis saying Howard’s potential was one of the major factors in him taking the job. Pharis also helped take Howard’s ability to a new level after drawing some attention from colleges during his junior campaign.

“He’s helped me with my technique and the basics,” Howard said. “He knows how to work with the heavyweights. He’s helped me realize some of the stuff I’ve been missing in my arsenal.”

Howard was the LaGrange wrestling team MVP for 2022-23 and was a real leader for a team full of youth. He helped get the Grangers back to the state playoffs as the team’s top wrestler. 

“He walks the walk and talks the talk,” Pharris said. “He is setting an example for the younger Grangers and the future Grangers. He shows them what hard work and dedication can get them.”

Howard is not a wrestling lifer like many of the young talents that receive college offers. He played football in middle school when one of the football coaches convinced him to come out for wrestling in the eighth grade.

“It wasn’t a nifty start and at first I didn’t think it would be for me,” Howard said. “My ninth grade year I started to find a groove with it and in my sophomore year I had a state appearance and fell a couple matches short of placing and after that I saw a light and kept on chasing it.”

Once he found his frequency on the mat, Howard was a beacon for the younger wrestlers to follow. Howard was instrumental in keeping the program alive over the last few years when interest in the sport waned at LaGrange High. The program had just a handful of wrestlers a season ago when they could not fill a line. Howard went on the recruiting trail with Pharis and helped bring in some much needed fresh blood for the program.

To see the program go from near extinction to thriving in a short span has been special for Howard. 

“It’s amazing. It is crazy to see a program go from almost dying to making the kind of progress that we made this year.”

Howard departs as one of the most decorated wrestlers in some time at LaGrange. While he leaves behind the Granger blue and white, he will carry his experiences there on to the next level.