Shenendehowa High School graduate Jesse Porter is one step away from making his Olympic dream come true.
It’s another big step for Porter, who, with a triumphant effort earlier this month, earned the No. 1 rank in his division on USA Wrestling’s National Team.
Porter will next be competing at the May 6-9 World Olympic Games Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, needing a top-two finish in the 77kg Greco-Roman weight class to advance to Tokyo in the summer.
“I have to make it to the finals,” Porter said Wednesday afternoon. “I plan on winning.”
The former Section II star and graduate student at Northern Michigan University won his division the first weekend of April at the United States Olympic Trials in Texas. Those trials did not offer an automatic trip to the Tokyo Games, though, since the 77kg weight class in Greco-Roman is not yet qualified for U.S. participation.
Porter will be in a group of about 15 wrestlers in Bulgaria.
“I am familiar with everyone, and I have wrestled quite a few of them before,” Porter said. “I am preparing specifically for their attacks, but a lot of my focus is on my own attacks. It’s how I win matches.
“I am going to continue to work and do the right things and stay confident every day in preparation for it.”
Porter posted 6-0, 10-0 and 5-3 wins at the United States Olympic Trials before meeting Peyton Walsh in a best-of-three final. Porter topped Walsh in the first match 8-1, and earned a 7-7 win on criteria in the second match to earn the title of Olympic Trials Champion.
“I had a game plan for the tournament, and executed it well,” Porter said. “That’s why I won.”
Porter is anticipating more victories in Bulgaria.
“I’ve always been a confident person,” the 23-year-old Porter said. “Before, after, if I lose, I’m still confident. I’m coming back.”
In March, Porter placed second at the USA Wrestling Last Chance Qualifier to gain entry to the Olympic Trials, which he won as the No. 10 seed. Last November, Porter won his fourth straight U23 Nationals title.
The former Journeymen Wrestling Club member will be accompanied by his dad and coach, Jesse Porter Sr., while in Bulgaria. To help defray the cost of the trip, the younger Porter has set up a GoFundMe page.