Oakridge junior Robert Porter eyes all-state status at Saturday's finals

Oakridge junior Robert Porter eyes all-state status at Saturday's finals

Provided by Shawn Liverance | The Muskegon Chronicle

Robert Porter is hoping to take that next step when he competes at the Division 3 cross country state finals on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

The Oakridge junior will be making his third straight appearance at the state finals.

As a freshman, he finished 185th overall and last season improved to 64th overall.

“I definitely would like to finish in the Top 30 this season and make all state,” Porter said. “That was the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the season. I want to take that next step and make all state.”

It has been a solid season for Porter as he consistently placed in the Top 10 at all the West Michigan Conference jamborees.

He also earned Top 10-finishes at the Fruitport Invitational along with the pre-regional race at McGraft Park.

Porter earned another trip to the state finals meet by placing 13th at a tough Division 3 regional in Allendale last weekend.

“I like how I am running right now,” Porter said. “I have been lowering my times and feel good heading into Saturday’s race.”

As an 8th grader, Porter got his start in running by competing for the Oakridge Middle School track team.

”I was always a distance runner from when I started running track,” Porter said. “I just have always liked the distance races better than anything else.”

Once in high school, Porter got his first taste of cross country.

“To me, cross country is more fun than running track,” said Porter, whose personal best time is 16:56. “I like that cross country is run on different courses. It is not just running around in circles.”

Oakridge boys and girls cross country coach Randall Green first saw Porter run track while he was in middle school.

“Even back in middle school you could see that Robert had lots of natural ability,” Green said. “I have coached runners who have had to work to become successful. Robert is someday that it just comes naturally to him.”

Porter, who comes from a running family as his mom Jessica Dakin ran in high school for Grant, put in plenty of work prior to the season with a goal of making the state finals again.

“I probably ran between 300 and 500 miles this summer mostly by myself,” Porter said. “There were times I didn’t want to put in the miles, but I knew that I had to if I wanted to accomplish the things I wanted to this season.”

Cross country has become such a passion for Porter that he hopes to run at the next level in college.

“I would love to run for Saginaw Valley State University in college,” Porter said. “That is my goal is to get a running scholarship that will help pay for school.”

Thoughts of becoming a four-time state finals qualifier also drives Porter.

“That is something I have thought about for sure,” Porter said. “That is my goal before every season to make the state finals.”

On Saturday, Porter will see that goal reached for a third straight year.

“I am looking forward to it,” Porter said. “I know and like the course down there. I will have my teammates there watching me and hopefully I can finish in the Top 30 and make all state.”