Wrestling with the heavyweight
He’s the face of the Kent State wrestling team. And with his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame, he may as well be its arms, legs and body, for that matter.
Many times, those who step on the mat to face senior Jermail Porter approach the heavyweight with hopes of making it out in one piece.
When sports reporter Caleb Raubenolt stood up to the task, he brought with him a pen and a notepad.
Last week’s victory gave you 110 wins on your career, tying you for third all-time at Kent State. You’re well on your way to a third consecutive trip to nationals. What were your goals coming into this season?
Well, the first one was to go undefeated … win a (Mid-American Conference) championship and make it to the NCAA finals. Now extended, seeing how close we are (to the end of the season), it’s to win it.
With a 22-1 record, you’ve now won 20 straight matches. What’s been the key to your dominance?
If I had to say anything . I’d say confidence. Confidence is a big thing to have. I learned in the NCAAs (that) confidence is a big thing to have. You have to believe you can beat anybody, and that’s basically my attitude.
A lot of polls have you ranked the No. 3 heavyweight in the country. Do you look at these rankings?
I look at them when they come out. I look at them pretty regularly, but I don’t read into them that much.
And how does it feel when you see your name up there, amidst the best of the country?
It feels good. Oh yeah. It feels good. I’m glad to say I’m in the top three guys in the country, and if you think about what that means, I’m glad to (see I have) made it up there. But I’m going to keep going, though. Keep moving up; don’t be satisfied.
Would you credit your size as being your biggest advantage?
Yeah. It took me a while to figure out how to use it to my advantage, but a lot of my wrestling style is based off my size and strength. Nine times out of 10, if I go for a takedown, I’m going to get it. So a lot of it’s based on how big and strong I am physically compared to everybody else.
If you could pick any sport to play other than wrestling, what would it be?
Football, definitely. I’m a huge football fan.
From what I understand, a lot of people could see me on the offensive line. A lot of the bigger guys (making) a transition from college wrestling at the elite level have gone and played football at the guard or tackle because of the hand-fighting and the athleticism they have. So I could see myself getting up to some-300 pounds, which is not a problem for me because that’s what I’ll do anyways.
How about basketball? What would say your skills are like on the court?
It would definitely be taking it back to old school, like old-school Shaq. I’d just be saying, “I’m posting up. Look for me underneath the bucket.” That’d be my style. There’s too much running involved, way too much flashiness for me.
Can you dunk?
Yeah, I can dunk. I’ve got to get a good running start, but I can dunk.
What are you going to miss the most after graduating from Kent State?
Wow. There’s a lot of things. I’m going to miss being close to my teammates because we see each other every day for hours upon hours. I’m going to miss the guys, the camaraderie. That’s probably mostly what I’ll miss. Going out, hanging out, doing stupid college stuff . And wrestling – not necessarily the practicing or the conditioning, but I’ll miss the competitive part of it.
Wrestlers are known to follow strict diets in season. What does yours consist of?
I’ll eat a lot of pasta, chicken breasts and fish, and I’ll have wing night on Tuesdays at Eldorado, that kind of thing. It’s not fun if you can’t cheat a little bit.
If the season ended today, what’s one meal you wouldn’t mind sinking your teeth into?
I’m not really jonesing for anything, but if I had to say anything, I’d say (EuroGyro’s) Wacky Wednesday $5 pizza, a gyro-meat pizza. I’d probably get two of those and see if I could put them both down.
Final question: You’re the coach of a wrestler paired up to face Jermail Porter. What’s your advice?
Try not to get hurt (laughing). Try to come out in one piece. That’d be the only thing I could tell him.
Contact sports reporter Caleb Raubenolt at [email protected]