Before she competes, Alexis Porter likes to visualize her matches. But even she didn’t imagine winning a National Championship with a first period pin.
“That wasn’t really in my plan,” Porter said from Fargo on Sunday. “But the opportunity was there and I had to take it. I was a little surprised. I didn’t expect it to be that short of a match.”
It was short – 1:32 to be exact. That’s how long it took for the Ballston Lake native to notch an early takedown and a pair of throws, leading to the fall over California’s Anna Naylor and a Cadet Women’s Freestyle National Title at 143 pounds.
The victory came a year after a successful debut in North Dakota, during which Porter earned All-America honors in both the Cadet (third place) and Junior (fourth) divisions.
“Last year was a little difficult because it was my first time and I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she said. “Considering it was my first time, I was okay with how I finished. It left me with something to do because I knew I hadn’t given it everything I had. I wanted to work harder and get first place this year.”
She was able to achieve that, and will look for another appearance on top of the podium when she takes the mat on Tuesday in the Junior division at 138 pounds, closer to her actual weight.
But before she does that, she’ll watch another member of her family, her brother Jesse, in Cadet Greco action.
Wrestling is truly a family affair for the Porters. Her father, Jesse, introduced the whole clan to the sport, including her mother Melovee. Alexis was learning wrestling even prior to officially stepping on the mat.
“I was always my brother’s practice partner,” Porter said. “Even before I knew much about wrestling.”
At age nine, she made a decision to delve deeper into the sport as more than just a hobby.
“When I first started, it was just a fun thing to do and a good way to stay active. I didn’t care that much about winning and losing,” she said. “But as I got older, I started to take it seriously. I dropped other sports (track and field, skiing and gymnastics) and made wrestling a priority. I fell in love with the sport and I set a lot of goals for myself.”
She has reached quite a few of them with the help of great workout environments both inside and outside her household.
The grappler trains not only with her family, but with Journeymen Wrestling with coaches such as Frank Popolizio and Jeff Blatnick, among others. She is also part of one of the Empire State’s best high school programs at Shenendehowa with head coach Rob Weeks.
In fact, during the season with the Plainsmen, Porter found herself in an excellent situation, practicing with a pair of 2012 New York State bronze medalists, Nick Kelley (132) and David Almaviva (138).
“We have one of the toughest rooms in the state,” Porter said. “It’s definitely helped me. I get pushed further than I think I can go. I get pounded by the boys at times, but I’m glad they beat me up a little bit. It helps me a lot when I get out there in touraments like Fargo.”
So when it comes down to it, does she like wrestling with the boys or girls better?
“Wrestling with the boys is a challenge that helps me get better,” she said. “But I like to win and I don’t do that as often with the boys.”
She has done a lot of winning, including titles at the Gene Mills Eastern Nationals and New York Freestyle and Greco States, among others. She is grateful to those who have assisted her on her path.
“I definitely want to thank my parents,” she said. “They are the most supportive people in my life. They’ve done so much for me. Ever since I started, they’ve put time, money and energy into it with me, hoping one day I’d get here.”
But it doesn’t end in Fargo. Porter, who wants to wrestle at the collegiate level, has her sights set on another medal stand in the future.
“I’d say, if you’re doing something, do it with your whole heart,” she said. “Dream big, whether it seems realistic or not, dream big. Yesterday’s championship [at Fargo] is my biggest accomplishment so far as far as Freestyle goes. But I’m going to keep working because I want to win an Olympic medal someday.”