Prep Wrestling: Danville's Elliott Porter says wrestling is the right sport for him
Danville junior Elliott Porter, top, has a 14-0 record this season and hopes this is the year he can qualify for the state tournament. He barely missed qualifying last year and says he wants to be part of the ¿insane¿ atmosphere at the state meet. (Clay Jackson)
Porter turned to wrestling soon after he was cut from the middle school basketball team, and the only thing that would make him happier about the way things have turned out for him would be the chance to wrestle at the state tournament in his last two seasons.
The Danville junior has become one of his team’s top wrestlers, and he said he knows he is probably getting more out of wrestling than he ever would have out of basketball.
“I’m glad it worked out,” he said. “I’m just not a big basketball guy any more ever since that. As as kid, I never really watched basketball. I’d watch the UK-Louisville game and the NBA Finals, and that’s about it.”
Porter might not have had game on the basketball court, but he does on the wrestling mat, where he is off to a hot start this season. Porter is undefeated in 14 head-to-head matches in the heavyweight class.
“He’s been wrestling this year really, really hard, very smart,” Danville coach Jeff Selby said.
Porter got a taste of success soon after he started wrestling, finishing fifth in his class in the state middle school competition as a seventh-grader and third as an eighth-grader, when he lost a total of four matches to two competitors.
And he has continued to improve even as he has overcome a disadvantage that would have chased many others to give up the sport. His left arm is noticeably smaller and weaker than his right arm as a result of never damage to his neck and shoulder suffered at birth.
His injury is the result of a combination of Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy, both of which affect the brachial plexus, the network of nerves running from the spine and into the armpit and arm. The result is that his left arm is smaller and has a smaller range of motion than his right arm.
“Guys would get under my arm, and I’ve only got just a little range. They’d get under it and start pulling on it, and I’d just have to go over. But over the years I’ve learned how to defend for it, and I’m pretty successful with it now,” he said.
He has learned how to compensate for what his left arm can’t do with a very strong right arm, and he said he almost never thinks about his limitations when he competes.
Porter has also been successful on the football field for Danville — he is a starter on the defensive line — but he wasn’t as good as he thought he would be on the basketball court.
He didn’t make the cut for the sixth-grade basketball team at Bate Middle School. The high school and middle school wrestling coaches had already been trying to recruit him, and they approached him again after the basketball tryouts didn’t go his way.
“The coaches were talking to my about it anyway. They were like, ‘Well, just in case you don’t make the basketball team ... ‘ because apparently they already knew,” he said. “I thought I was the best thing that came to basketball, but apparently not. So I was like, ‘Fine, I’m going to try wrestling so I can stay in shape for football,’ and I fell in love with it.
“It used to be all about football, but once I started getting success in wrestling, I was like, ‘Man, I could go somewhere and wrestle,’” he said.
Porter said he has already heard from a couple of college football coaches, and Selby said he wouldn’t be surprised if some wrestling recruiters talk to Porter as well.
Porter, who wants to teach English and perhaps coach either football or wrestling, said he’d be happy with the chance to compete in either sport in college.
“Whichever one wants to pay the most,” he said.
Selby said Porter brings good qualities to his team both on and off the mat.