When Alexis Porter entered her first pee wee tournament, at the age of 9, she had no idea it was a sport that would become a major part of her life.
“I had no idea, but when I started to have some success, I gave up the other sports I was involved with to focus on wrestling,” said the Shenendehowa senior, who will compete in one of two women’s exhibition matches that will precede today’s U.S. vs. Russia dual at Shenendehowa High School. “This is a great opportunity to face a good wrestler in my home gym. How could I turn it down?”
Porter, a four-time national champion and member of this year’s Cadet World team, will face Canadian FILA national champion Keagin Collie of Ontario at 2:45, prior to a dual promoted by Frank Popolizio of Journeymen Wrestling.
“It would be great to get a lot of people here to see me wrestle,” said the 17-year-old, who has been all over social media hitting up friends for support. “Especially since I finally get to wrestle at home.”
Porter, a member of the Shenendehowa varsity team, has been busy competing since the high school season ended last winter.
She qualified for the Nationals in Fargo with her third state championship, won the Body Bar FILA Cadet Nationals, picked up her fourth national championship in July in Fargo and spent time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to train for her first World Championships. That competition, in Serbia, was an eye-opener.
“That didn’t go as well as I had hoped,” said Porter, who placed 12th in a bracket of 16 at 65kg. “It was my first time overseas, and that was very different, the food, the setting, a lot of things. I’m looking at this exhibition as a chance to make up for that.”
Porter’s spot on the World team will mean more time away from home as she prepares for a pair of international tours, the first in Sweden in February, and then in Austria in June.
“I’ve got [training] camps to go to before the next overseas tours, and one comes during the high school season,” said Porter. “The coaches here have been great. They understand.
“It’s a great room here, one of the best in the state, and I’ve had great coaches and workout partners. It’s a different style, but it has helped.”
Popolizio, who also has his annual Northeast Collegiate Duals coming up on Nov. 30, wanted to bring another wrestling event to the area to show the sport is still alive.
“We’re on life support as a sport,” he said of wrestling’s recent elimination — and subsequent reinstatement — as an Olympic sport. “That’s the reason I chose ‘The Resurrection’ for the name of the event.
“We in the sport need to continue to promote wrestling, to give people the chance to experience it, whether it’s a dual like this, or the college duals.”
The U.S. team for the international dual is led by 2012 Olympian Sam Hazewinkel, 2013 World Team member and NCAA champion Keith Gavin and 2011 World Team member Nick Simmons.
Also expected in the U.S. lineup is 2013 Cadet World Champion Aaron Pico, a sophomore at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif. He would be making his debut at the Senior level.