February 8, 2005
From the trenches of the football field to the wrestling mats, Highland seniors Ty Porter and Richard Tuitu’u have gone through four years of highs and lows.
This weekend, the two will have a chance to go out on top.
After losing in the football state semifinals to eventual champion Hamilton earlier this year, the linemates and wrestling partners will have a chance to avenge the football defeat with a team wrestling title.
"It’s hard to get over, but that would certainly help," said Porter. "A championship would be a great way to go out."
The two, who have been lining up side by side for the Highland football team for four years, have found themselves in their best position for a title — Highland is in first place after the opening round of the state wrestling tournament.
While both stood out in football — they were first-team selections on the All-Tribune team — each has also excelled on the mat.
Tuitu’u is ranked No. 1 in the state among 5A wrestlers at 277 pounds after winning the Fiesta Region title and compiling a 16-2 record.
But his meal ticket is football. Tuitu’u recently accepted a scholarship to play football at Arizona State, spurning offers from California and other Division I schools.
"I wanted to stay close to my friends and family," Tuitu’u said. "ASU was the perfect fit."
Porter is a three-time Fiesta Region champion at 215 pounds and won the state title last year. This year, he has not lost to any wrestler in the state while compiling a 38-1 record.
Porter is still contemplating whether to wrestle in college or try to walk on in football. He has received letters from ASU and some smaller East Coast schools but wants to wait until after the season to make a decision.
Porter is also expected to take a two-year Mormon mission after his freshman year in college and said he will be ready to wrestle when he returns.
"It’s in my blood," said Porter, who has wrestled since the third grade. "It’s a sickness."
Porter and Highland wrestling coach Abel Figueroa are expected to travel to the National High School Coaches Association Seniors Wrestling Championship in Cleveland in March and will make a decision regarding a school after that.
Figueroa said Porter is the perfect fit as a team captain, combining both the verbal and physical traits needed to lead the team, and is just as impressive off the mat.
"He’s the kind of man you want your kids to turn into," Figueroa said. "He’s just a great guy."