High School Sports

High school wrestling: Bellefonte’s Port rebounds to finish sixth at PIAA Championships

Bellefonte’s Brock Port, left, gets tangled with Waynesburg’s AC Headlee during Friday’s PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal bout at 132 pounds in Hershey. Headlee won the bout 9-0, as Port rebounded Saturday for a sixth-place finish.
Bellefonte’s Brock Port, left, gets tangled with Waynesburg’s AC Headlee during Friday’s PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal bout at 132 pounds in Hershey. Headlee won the bout 9-0, as Port rebounded Saturday for a sixth-place finish. AP photo

With a last name that is synonymous with wrestling success, Bellefonte’s Brock Port knows the expectations are high, especially in the PIAA Class AAA Championships.

Cousin Mitchell Port is a former state champ, a runner-up and third-place NCAA finisher, who is currently ranked second in the NCAA at 141 pounds.

It’s guilt by association, and there are many who expect the same kinds of things from Brock.

He found that out heading into these championships, which began Thursday at the Giant Center.

“People were talking about how they were coming down Friday to watch me,” Port said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I better make it to Friday first.’”

Port not only made it to Friday, but did something Saturday his cousin didn’t do as a sophomore — capture a PIAA medal.

Brock Port went 1-2 in Saturday’s consolation matches and finished sixth at 132 pounds.

Bellefonte coach Mike Maney says Brock faces scrutiny thanks to his cousin, who made the podium here three times, ascending to the top step in 2010. Mitchell has become a national name thanks to his ascension in the NCAA ranks at Edinboro.

“I’m sure that plays a factor when you have a cousin who is a state champion and a multiple time All-American who has been to the NCAA Finals before,” said Maney. “It comes with a certain level of expectations. I’m sure he’s tired of hearing the question, ‘Are you Mitchell Port’s brother?’”

It’s an added layer to the pressure that comes with the trip to Hershey. Brock Port was 0-2 last year as a freshman.

“Just being here, increases your nerves and anxiety, plus on top of that knowing everywhere you go people are going to be gunning for you because of that last name,” Maney said. “That increases things for him, but they both get along well and Brock accepts the challenge.”

To Brock’s credit, he doesn’t seem to mind answering the same questions.

“Yeah,” he says with a shrug. “I have big shoes to fill.”

“For the most part, he has handled it pretty good,” Maney said. “He’s even-keel with everything. He doesn’t get too high or too low. He doesn’t seem to let those kind of things bother him. It’s certainly a name that’s well respected in the wrestling community and something he should be proud of.”

Port made his own path this weekend, beating some good wrestlers and losing a couple of heart-breakers. All three competitors that Port lost to, including champion AC Headlee, finished fifth or better in the weight class.

“He’s competing with the upper classmen right now,” Maney said. “To place in the Pennsylvania, the best wrestling state, is certainly something to be proud of.”

In the fifth-place clash, Port had a late lead against North Allegheny sophomore Jake Hinkson.

The first period went scoreless. Port dominated from the top in the second period and tilted Hinkson to take a 2-0 lead into the third.

He started on bottom in the third and still had his lead until late, but Hinkson caught him with a cradle for three nearfall points and Port couldn’t get an escape over the final 15 seconds to drop a 3-2 decision.

“He’s known for his cradles,” Port said. “I didn’t really know him, but that’s what I had heard. It was a tough way to lose, but it happened.”

“He just got caught there,” Maney said. “He relaxed a little bit and the kid is dangerous with the cradle. At this level, you’ve got to wrestle every second.”

In the fifth round of consolations, Port dropped a 4-2 decision to Warren senior DJ Fehlman in a rematch of the Northwest Regional final from last weekend that Fehlman won 5-1 in overtime.

This was another close one. After a scoreless first period, Fehlman got the edge by turning Port twice for nearfall points and rode him out for a 4-0 lead.

Port chose neutral to start the third period and got on the board by converting a single-leg takedown with 49 seconds left in the match. He tried to turn Fehlman, but had no luck. After a stalemate call, Felhman bellied out for the final 11 seconds.

In his fourth-round consolation match, Port met Norwin’s Josh Ridgeway.

After a scoreless first period, Port started the second on bottom. He needed just 20 seconds to reverse Ridgeway and just a few more to tilt him for a pair of nearfall points and a 4-0 lead.

It looked like it would stay that way through the period, but Ridgeway was awarded a reversal as the buzzer sounded and Port led 4-2 entering the final period.

Port dominated from on top most of the third period with Ridgeway flattened on the mat. Ridgeway finally got loose for an escape but Port was able to fend him off over the final 10 seconds to get the win.

“I started the day a little better,” Port said of his busy afternoon. “I wrestled pretty good, but the last match was a little sluggish.”

“Today he was moving better on his feet,” Maney said. “He’s opened up a little bit more. We’re taking steps forward and being more aggressive and that’s a positive.”

Port wrestled six matches during the tournament and his face showed the wear and tear, including several cuts and abrasions around his right eye.

“Yeah, I’m feeling pretty beat up right now,” he said.

While he got a medal, Port (33-5) says he will leave Hershey with plenty he’s hoping to work on for next March.

“I’ll be more prepared,” he said. “I want to work on bottom. That was the position that lost me all three matches here.”

Maney said Port is capable of taking those steps that may find him standing a little higher on the podium next March.

“After the weekend, he’ll reflect,” said Maney, a former PIAA champ. “Usually good guys are always look toward getting better. I’m sure he’s looking to do that already for next year.

Notes: Penn State recruit Vincenzo Joseph completed an impressive run in the 152-pound weight class with his second consecutive PIAA title. Joseph, of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, won 13-3 over in the semifinals over Punxsutawney’s Kaleb Young, an Iowa recruit, and 12-7 in the finals over Franklin’s Josh Maruca. … Penn State preferred walk-on Kellan Stout also won a title at 182 pounds. Stout did not allow a point in four matches, including a 1-0 win over Stroudsburg’s John Jakobsen in the final. … Franklin 120-pounder Spencer Lee, who had three falls and a tech fall, was named the tournaments’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

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