Saturday not only marked the end of the PIAA wrestling championships, it also marked the end of Brock Port’s career in a Bellefonte singlet.
It’s been a memorable four years for the senior.
He finishes his high school career with 141 wins, second all-time in Red Raider history behind the 156 wins of his cousin, Mitchell Port. And he also stood on the podium with a silver medal around his neck — the best finish of his four years and the best medal of any county wrestler.
“It’s meant a lot,” Port said. “Coach (Mike) Maney and everybody that’s supported me along the way, I’m very grateful. I’m just glad to be a part of such a great program.”
Port reached the 145-pound finals of the PIAA Class 3A wrestling championships on Saturday night when he took on Hempfield’s Jarod Verkleeren.
It was a matchup that didn’t favor Port very well in a 16-5 major decision loss — his first loss this year. But his overall performance was still a nice jump compared to his previous places in the state tournament. He qualified all four years he wrestled at the varsity level — including 2014 (no medal), 2015 (sixth) and 2016 (seventh).
“I was definitely happy to do better than past years,” Port said. “I’ve dreamed about being on top of the podium forever now. I just didn’t get it done.”
Verkleeren, who is the nation’s top-ranked 145-pound wrestler according to Intermat, came out firing on all cylinders by tallying seven takedowns in the match. He got three of them in the first period to Port’s two escapes and the Bellefonte wrestler trailed to start the second period.
Port tallied another escape midway through the second period to get within 6-3 — the closest he’d be the rest of the match. Verkleeren earned another takedown before the second period ended. In the third period, Verkleeren scored eight points off three more takedowns and two near-fall points.
“I know he is going to be disappointed,” Maney said. “Verkleeren is a world champion, so that tells you the caliber kid it takes to beat Brock. He’s going to leave here being a three-time state place-winner and making the state finals wrestling in the best state in the country. Winning three state medals certainly tells you are in elite company.”
Port might leave Bellefonte without any gold, but he also leaves as one of its most decorated wrestlers of all time.
He became a four-time District 6 champion and a two-time Northwest Regional champion — this year beating Bald Eagle Area’s Gage McClenahan in both title matches. He also boasted a career record of 141-15.
This season alone Port finished with 39 wins — and 21 of those were pins.
“When he reflects a little bit on the things he accomplished on his career, he can certainly be proud of his accomplishments,” Maney said. “Success doesn’t happen by accident. It’s just a lot of hard work. Through the years, he has put in the time. Everything he’s got, he has earned.”
It’s easy to look ahead for Port — he’s won enough titles already in his high school career. And his performance is something for future Red Raiders to strive for.
Port will begin writing the next pages of his wrestling career at Lock Haven University. He had a smile on his face when asked about his college plans.
“I’m just excited to start training with the guys,” he said. “We got a good upcoming team. We get after it. We should have some titles to win.”