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Milton's Porter strong on first day of D4 tourney
February 22, 2013 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT
Taylor Porter leaves no indication he's hurting. He's not moving slower, he hasn't lost any of his explosiveness.
In fact, the only way you'd know the Milton senior is just a few weeks removed from knee surgery is by the cloth brace on his knee. Other than that, Porter looks like a wrestler who is poised to make his first run to Hershey.
Porter won his first-round match by technical fall, then beat Montoursville's Garrett Hoffman, 9-3, in the quarterfinals to earn a spot in the 145-pound semifinals of the District 4 Class AA tournament. Porter was one of 29 local wrestlers to advance to this morning's semifinals.
The first round of consolations are set for 8:30, with semifinals to start at 10 at Williamsport High School.
“I'm feeling all right,” Porter said after his dominant win over Hoffman. “My knee gets sore a little bit sometimes, but I have to keep working through it and just wrestle hard and take it one match at a time.”
Porter was poised to have a huge senior season, especially when in the season-opening tournament at Cumberland Valley he lost an overtime decision to Burrell's Philip Marra, a returning state qualifier who is currently ranked fifth in the state. He's always had the athleticism and quickness to be a threat whenever he wrestled, but his early-season results made it look like he had taken that next step to be a threat to get to Hershey.
He was 14-6 when his knee finally became too bothersome to bear. Those six losses all came in the three tournaments – the Cumberland Valley tournament, the Beast of the East and the Bethlehem Holiday Tournament – head coach Mike Snyder had added to the Black Panthers' schedule to prepare the team's best individuals for the postseason.
Porter said the knee injury, which turned out to be a torn meniscus, wasn't something which happened in particular instance. He said it was likely the result of years of playing football, wrestling and baseball.
But it was in the semifinals of the Bethlehem tournament which he said the final blow occurred and he knew he needed to have it checked out.
“It actually started hurting right after our district game in football,” Porter said. “But in the semis at Bethlehem, I lost by a point and it was really getting to me. That's when I further injured it just leaning all the way back on it.”
Porter wrestled his final match before surgery on Jan. 10. He didn't wrestle again until Feb. 5 in a dual meet against Central Columbia where he lost 4-3 to Austin Miknich.
He wrestled five times in a tournament on Feb. 9 winning all five, the first two by fall and the third by technical fall. His last two matches were both decision victories by two points each.
He said he tried to dominate his opponents as much as he could that day, especially since he knew his conditioning wasn't going to be quite where it was before the surgery.
But that head start transferred into a second-place finish at last week's South Sectional, and last night he looked as solid as he has all year. He was slick on his feet and punishing on the mat.
“It's not all there yet, but I feel pretty good,” Porter said. “Now I get to go home (Friday night) and take it easy and hopefully I can get a win (Saturday) and go to the finals.”
Porter faces defending district champion Billy Barnes in the semifinals this morning with the winner facing either Benton's Colt Cotten or Midd-West's Zach Heeter, who beat Porter in the South final last week, in the final.
He was also one of four Milton wrestlers to get into the semifinals last night, putting the Black Panthers in third place in the team race with 35.5 points. Only Benton (48) and Central Columbia (44) have more points.
Defending state champion Ryan Solomon (195 pounds) and returning state qualifier Ryan Preisch (152) both recorded first-period falls to move into the semifinals. Zack Bennet won a pair of matches, including a 4-0 upset of South Williamsport's Nate Jones to reach the semifinals at 132 pounds.
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