Jernard Porter is one of Manatee County’s safest bets to be lifting deep into the upcoming postseason. The senior has already qualified for the state meet twice during his career and has been unmatched in the area in the 154-pound weight class this season.
He was also unmatched in the 169-pound weight class.
“He could go to state as a 169. He’d qualify easily,” Manatee head coach Rich Lansky said, “but he’ll compete and then, hopefully, have a shot for a medal at ’54.”
In all but one of the Hurricanes’ head-to-head meets this season, Porter came out on top at 169 pounds. In the last meet against Braden River, he won at 183.
Porter is one of only two lifters in the county this season who reached the state meet in 2016. After a 14th-place finish at 154 in Class 2A last spring. When the Hurricanes’ postseason begins Wednesday with the Class 2A-District 13 meet at Lakewood Ranch High School, the senior will be at his standard 154 weight class with an eye toward winning his first state medal.
“I think both of the exercises I can increase. I’ve got to just keep working at it,” Porter said. “I think I’ll be in the top three at state.”
The only other district meet that includes county schools — the Class 1A-District 15 championship — is Friday at 4 p.m. at Lemon Bay High School. None of the area’s lifters set to compete in Englewood qualified for the state championship in 2016.
I think I’ll be in the top three at state.
Jernard Porter, Manatee 154-pounder
The area’s state experience falls on Porter and teammate Seth Walter, who is lifting at 238 after finishing ninth in 2A at 219 last year. Walter has less ground to make up to reach the medal stand, but Porter has proven himself more than capable of making the leap.
Porter began the year with last year’s state-title number in mind: 585. The 500 pounds he put up at the state championship left him well short, although with Porter planning to stay at 154 it wasn’t an unattainable mark.
He’s gradually progressed this winter, making out at a combined bench press, and clean and jerk of 555 pounds. He now hovers around 550 with a 300-pound bench press, and a 250-pound clean and jerk.
585The total weight, in pounds, lifted — combining the bench press, and the clean and jerk — by last year’s Class 2A champion in the 154-pound weight class. Jernard Porter’s best combined total in 2017 is 555.
“I compare them every week,” Porter said. “Every week I’ve increased I’ve compared them to last year’s numbers.”
Placing Porter in heavier weight classes during the 2017 season affirmed his progress and, most importantly, granted the Hurricanes flexibility. Porter hasn’t been under pressure to cut weight until now, and he has been a bit heavier than 154 pounds for the entire season. Lansky has had an easier time filling out lineups to get as many lifters live experience while being at ease with the knowledge Porter can win against bigger competition.
And during the coming weeks, Porter think he has room to add on the extra weight he’ll need to seriously contend for a top-three finish in 2A. The clean and jerk, particularly, leaves him room to grow, Lansky said.
With high school football behind him — he is still looking into opportunities to play wide receiver in college — his workout regimen can change, too. He doesn’t have the twice-a-day workouts with Lansky that football players usually participate in, and he doesn’t have to go through the same sort of conditioning. For the next month, Porter can be solely dedicated to medaling at state.
“I haven’t seen anybody locally,” Lansky said, “that’s close to Jernard at 154.”
CLASS 2A-DISTRICT 13
Who: Manatee, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto Braden River
When: Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Lakewood Ranch High School
CLASS 1A-DISTRICT 15
Who: Southeast, Bayshore
When: Friday, 4 p.m.
Note: Regionals are set for Punta Gorda Charlotte H.S. on March 22 for Class 2A-Region 7 and for Englewood Lemon Bay on March 25 for Class 1A-Region 8.