Jesse Porter’s dreams of reaching this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo fell three wins shy of becoming reality.
Porter, a 2015 Shenendehowa High School graduate and winner of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Greco-Roman wrestling’s 77-kilogram weight class, needed to reach the finals Saturday at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria in order to lock up his spot in Tokyo.
The former Section II star, now a graduate student at Northern Michigan University, cleared one hurdle on Saturday by winning his first match, but was eliminated from champion — and Olympic — contention in the second round.
Porter started Saturday’s competition with a bang, running through Marciano George Ali of Puerto Rico in his opening match, winning 9-0 by technical superiority.
However, in the next round, Porter fell 7-0 to Fatih Cengiz of Turkey to fall out of the championship. It’s the third time Porter has run into Cengiz at a major international event, previously losing to the Turkish grappler in the first round of the 2017 and 2018 U23 world championships.
The 23-year-old Porter was coming off an incredible run last month to win the U.S. Olympic Trials in Fort Worth, Texas. After a second-place finish at the USA Wrestling Last Chance Qualifier earned him a spot in the 77kg field at the trials as the No. 10 seed in a 10-man bracket, Porter steamrolled through his competition, winning three straight matches to reach the championship round before sweeping Peyton Walsh in the best-of-three final.
Porter is a four-time U23 Greco-Roman national champion. In high school, he was a two-time Section II Division I champion at 152 pounds for Shenendehowa, finishing fourth in the state tournament in 2014 and third in 2015.
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