High School Sports

Bellefonte wrestler Brock Port’s path to success paved with unparalleled work ethic

Bellefonte wrestler Brock Port was named the Centre Daily Times’ Male Inspiring Athlete of the Year. Port finished second on the all-time wins list in Red Raider wrestling history with in the Bellefonte wrestling room on Monday, May 22, 2017.
Bellefonte wrestler Brock Port was named the Centre Daily Times’ Male Inspiring Athlete of the Year. Port finished second on the all-time wins list in Red Raider wrestling history with in the Bellefonte wrestling room on Monday, May 22, 2017.

Bellefonte’s Brock Port paused for several seconds, stammering then laughing because he didn’t know how to answer. He was stumped.

What career milestone was the wrestler most proud of?

“That’s a tough one,” he said, pausing again. “Hmm ... I don’t know. There’s not really anything that stands out.”

For the humble and softspoken senior, it seems as if the actual problem was the opposite — too much stood out. Brock finished his wrestling career with 141 career wins, second all-time in Red Raider history. He won four district championships. He earned three medals at states, including a silver this past season. And he was a two-time Northwest Regional champ.

Brock’s father has already packed up most of his son’s trophies in boxes because there’s just no more room. Brock, who’s heading to Lock Haven in the fall, outgrew any awards cases or bookshelves years ago.

“As he got older, the awards turned to medals — and we were OK with that because they stored a lot easier,” Brock’s father, Roger, said with a laugh.

Ever since he reached junior high, Brock has been on a path to success that’s been paved with hard work and a quiet confidence. In middle school, Brock woke up bleary-eyed while the moon still hung in the sky — and then worked out in the Bellefonte gym at 6:30 a.m. After school, he’d attend wrestling practice. And, after that, he’d sit down to dinner — before heading to workouts at Ken Chertow’s gym.

Chertow eventually told Brock and his family that he needed to scale back on the hard work. Even if Brock pleaded with his family, it was just too much for a young kid.

“Brock has just always taken it to the next level, when it came to his commitment,” his high school coach, Mike Maney, said. “He’s very dedicated.”

That payoff was evident during this past season, which led to him claiming the Centre Daily Times’ Male Inspiring Athlete of the Year award. Brock finished his senior campaign with a 39-1 record — 21 wins came by fall — and his only loss came to Hempfield’s Jarod Verkleeren, who was widely regarded as the nation’s top wrestler at 145 pounds.

Brock would often remain stoic before his matches. Even when he accepted the Athlete of the Year Award last Sunday, he suppressed a smile when his grandfather raised his arms in triumph and shouted, “Yes!”

In the past, Brock said, he’d sometimes feel nervous before his matches. He’d recognize a big name and sometimes freeze once he stood under the lights of the mat. But this past year, as a senior, all that melted away. Even Brock’s father said he couldn’t tell the difference in his son — but Brock said he never felt more confident.

“I went out on the mat before not to lose,” Brock said. “This year, I kind of stepped up and went out and tried to score points. I’m proud of those improvements.”

As a freshman, opponents recognized the last name because of the success of his cousin Mitchell, a three-time NCAA All-American who finished with the most wrestling wins in Bellefonte history. The Red Raiders’ coach recalled with a laugh the attitude of one specific opponent that first season, when Brock’s name was called during a weigh-in — and an opponent’s coach scoffed at the scrawny wrestler who received the early hype.

“He goes, ‘That’s Port?’ Like they see this little skinny guy,” Maney said. “But, after the match, he saw why he received that attention. He tech falled his opponent.”

Brock has more than lived up to his name. He’s come a long way since that freshman season, and he’s established himself as the area’s top wrestler, its top athlete and one of the state’s elite wrestlers. Brock said all these honors haven’t come as a surprise because this is what he’s worked for these last four years.

Maney believes this is only the beginning. Brock wants to place at NCAAs — and Maney, who insisted he doesn’t say something unless he means it, envisions him as an All-American.

For Brock, the road to that next level is simple. It’s not unlike his path to high school success.

“I don’t think I have any special tricks,” Brock said. “I just put my time in and work harder than everybody else — that’s what you got to do to win.”

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