Long Reach's Porter sets course toward state title 8-0 start puts lightweight on target to make his mark

December 21, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Long Reach wrestler J. C. Porter laid the foundation his freshman year with a solid 20-8 season and a third-place county finish. He built the walls last season with a 26-4 record, a county title and a third-place regional finish.

This season, the 5-foot-9 junior wants to put on the roof -- go undefeated and win a state title at either 119 or 125 pounds.

And so far he's right on track. He's 8-0. He won the Chopticon Tournament. And the only unintentional points he's allowed were on a reversal. The other five points scored against him came when he purposely let his opponent escape.

He has two good role models he hopes to follow in Glenelg's Jeremy Lignelli and Jimmy O'Connor. Both went undefeated and won state titles their junior seasons. O'Connor is a senior this season. Lignelli graduated with two state titles in tow.

"This is the season I can make my mark," Porter said.

During a preseason tournament at Damascus, he defeated Willy Harris of DeMatha, a national prep schools champion, and that gave him confidence.

"He's a cautious wrestler, with great strength for his size, quickness, and excellent balance on his feet," said first-year Long Reach coach Bill Flick. "He's very deceiving, because he doesn't look muscle-bound, but he does a lot of weight training."

Porter is a versatile wrestler with many moves, who does well in all three basic wrestling positions.

He's good at escapes from the bottom, difficult to take down from his feet, and once on top, he pins the majority of his opponents. He has five pins, two technical falls and one decision for his eight wins.

"He has a defensive style that takes advantage of other people's mistakes," Flick said.

Flick thinks one thing Porter needs to improve upon is taking a more offensive style on his feet.

"He needs to shoot more often," Flick said.

Porter has a lot of internal drive that makes him work as hard outside of practice as inside. He wrestles year-round, attends many clinics and won state Greco-Roman and freestyle titles this year.

"He pushes himself and is dedicated to running," Flick said.

Porter is Long Reach's mainstay, a team captain who helps fire up teammates while working with them in practice.

"This week, coach put me in a circle, and everyone took turns trying to take me down," Porter said.

No one succeeded.

Flick said: "Having a wrestler like him is extremely important to a young program like ours. It gives the other kids something to strive for when someone is having success. He's level-headed, focused, and team-oriented. Hopefully, he'll help others to set goals. He made states last year, so he can talk about that."

Long Reach, with an improved turnout of 30 wrestlers, is off to an improved start with a 2-2 record -- the same number of wins as all last season. And both losses were close.

"This coach really knows wrestling, and I can see us beating a lot of teams this season and doing well at counties," Porter said.

Porter wrestled two years in youth leagues, one for Western Howard County and one for the Columbia Hurricanes.

He said he was inspired to wrestle by Chris Poling, a county champ and former teammate at Howard, where Porter wrestled as a freshman before transferring last season to Long Reach.

Porter also credits Dan Ricker, a former Howard coach who is now an assistant at Hammond, with helping make him the best wrestler he can be.

"In [youth leagues], football, not wrestling, was my thing. I played seven or eight years for the Howard County Trojans and Columbia Bulldogs," Porter said. "But when I didn't grow, I decided to focus on wrestling. Next season, I'm going to play football again, though."

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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