Oak­dale High’s Porter, ranked No. 1 in state, has Olympic dreams

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JU­LIAN A. LOPEZ [email protected]­bee.com

He wakes up and ei­ther lifts weights or goes for a run.

Then, Oak­dale sopho­more wrestler Henry Porter eats and goes to school, takes part in wrestling prac­tice, comes home and rests for a lit­tle, and then ei­ther goes for a run again or prac­tices in his makeshift wrestling room in his base­ment with his dad, Kyle. He en­joys it all. “Its ba­si­cally my job,” Porter said. “I do school­work and wrestling. That’s my job ... to get a higher ed­u­ca­tion in col­lege and com­pete higher.”

So far, so good for Porter, who is the state’s No. 1-ranked wrestler in his weight class (132) by Cal­i­for­nia Wrestler and fin­ished sec­ond as a fresh­man at the CIF State Meet last year.

“He took ad­van­tage of his op­por­tu­nity last year and made the state fi­nal,” Oak­dale coach Steve Strange said. “What makes him so spe­cial is some kids would take that and be con­tent with it. Him mak­ing the state fi­nals has made him even hun­grier. He is seek­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties to go and do ev­ery­thing he can do.”

For Porter, wrestling is in his blood: There are 16 state medals in his an­ces­try.

Dad Kyle Porter was a two-time state cham­pion at Hugh­son in 1991 and 1992. Henry’s un­cle, Cliff Acosta, was a four-time state medal­ist. Kyle’s fa­ther, Doug, was a long­time wrestling coach at Hugh­son as well. His un­cle, Aaron Porter, also was a state medal­ist.

“On both sides of the fam­ily, we have wres­tled for three gen­er­a­tions,” Kyle Porter said.

Henry said he grew up go­ing to tour­na­ments with his dad, who also coached at Hugh­son.

“I would be with him all the time watch­ing his guys wres­tle and just hang­ing out in the wrestling room,” Henry said.

In the base­ment of the house, Henry and Kyle go over moves and watch wrestling videos to­gether.

The moves Henry has been taught are “old stuff that they used to do back in the day” he said.

“He was born and bred to wres­tle,” said Strange, who also wres­tled at Hugh­son. “It’s ex­cit­ing to see it come into fruition.”

Henry started wrestling when he was 5 and wres­tled in mid­dle school while play­ing foot­ball be­fore giv­ing up the sport in high school.

“It’s not an overnight thing,” Strange said. “He

has been at this for a long time like a lot of the guys. At 12 years old, you didn’t know his po­ten­tial. Even last year, he took some losses, came in ranked 10th and then made the fi­nals at the state meet.”

Al Fontes, who is an ed­i­tor with the Cal­i­for­nia Wrestler and is a Cal­i­for­nia Wrestling Hall-of-Fame com­mit­tee board mem­ber, said one of Porter’s big­gest strengths is his abil­ity to nav­i­gate through tough tour­na­ments. Henry re­cently fin­ished fifth at the Doc Buchanan In­vi­ta­tional and eighth at the Walsh Je­suit Iron­man Tour­na­ment, both top tour­na­ments in the na­tion.

“He has the men­tal for­ti­tude,” Fontes said. “There are a lot of good wrestlers, but there are not a lot that can men­tally and phys­i­cally get through tough com­pe­ti­tions. You’ve got to be able to men­tally pick up the pieces, and Henry has that ca­pa­bil­ity.”

Kyle, who said Henry was in­jured in both of those meets, said his son is bet­ter than him when the two-time state cham­pion was his age.

“His tech­ni­cal skills are a lot bet­ter,” Kyle said. “They are learn­ing folk­style wrestling at a young age, and then they be­come mas­ters of it. Wrestlers’ tech­ni­cal lev­els are so far be­yond what our gen­er­a­tion’s were.”

Henry’s ca­reer goals re­main lofty:

“Wrestling in col­lege, be­come an All-Amer­i­can and a four-time na­tional cham­pion,” he said. “That’s the main goal. Then I am go­ing to try and be­come an Olympic team mem­ber and get to the Olympics and medal.”

Even Henry’s spare time is con­sumed with wrestling: Twice a week, he teaches wrestling to kids from the ages of 7 to 13.

It re­ally is eat, sleep and wres­tle for Henry Porter.

‘‘

HE WAS BORN AND BRED TO WRES­TLE. IT’S EX­CIT­ING TO SEE IT COME INTO FRUITION.

Oak­dale coach Steve Strange

ANDY AL­FARO aal­[email protected]­bee.com

Sopho­more Henry Porter wres­tles in the 132-pound weight class for the var­sity team at Oak­dale High School.

ANDY AL­FARO aal­[email protected]­bee.com

Oak­dale wresters Henry Porter, left, and Clay­ton Bashor work out dur­ing prac­tice at Oak­dale High School on Tues­day.

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