NEW FRANKLIN  One of New Franklin’s smallest residents is looking to score a big win later this month at the Amateur National Motocross Championships (ANMC) in Tennessee.

Hunter Porco will start first grade at Nolley Elementary School this fall, but first he’ll travel to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., for the ANMC after qualifying by taking first place in a regional qualifier in Illinois. The ANMC will take place July 31-Aug. 5 and, according to Hunter’s father Ernie Porco, his son’s success in the sport has come quickly.

“Hunter got his first dirt bike when he was four years old. Soon after that he started racing harescrambles,” Ernie Porco said. “He did really good and was winning almost every race. After a year of that, he started racing motocross at Malvern. The competition there was a lot harder and he loved it.”

Loving it seems to be an understatement given that, according to his father, Hunter has competed in 42 races in the past 12 months. Racing an average of three times a month is a busy schedule for anyone, let alone a competitor who was going through his first year of school at the same time.

Hunter’s favorite subject in school so far is math, although gym class was also a favorite during kindergarten. Depending on how the rest of his summer plays out on the track, he could have some shiny new medals to show off to his classmates when school begins in a month or so.

“Hunter says his favorite part is winning. He is always so excited to get a new trophy,” Ernie Porco said. “He loves spending the weekends at the track with all his motocross buddies.”

Getting to nationals was a multi-stage process. First, Hunter placed in the top eight at a local qualifier, then had to snag a top-four spot at regionals, where he took first. His father noted that winning the regional contest at MC Moto Park in Mount Carroll, Ill., was Hunter’s favorite race to date.

Asked what it’s like to ride and win, Hunter says “it feels good” and that he’s “excited to race against the top PW50 riders in the country.” He has two younger brothers, Grayson and Gavin, who aren’t yet old enough to ride, but enjoy watching their older brother compete and might be able to follow him onto the track some day.

Ernie Porco noted that Hunter’s support group includes his mother, grandparents, friends and sponsors, all of whom have played a part in helping him get to and succeed in races. Knowing that there is always someone there to cheer him on is key in being able to relax and ride once the race begins.

Motocross is the sport in which he’s received the most recognition, but it’s not Hunter’s only sport. He also wrestles for Manchester, competing last season for the youth varsity team, wrestling at 49 pounds. So far, keeping up with two sports hasn’t been a problem and succeeding in each provides more confidence when it comes to competition. 

Loading up his bike and making the long drive south to Tennessee for the ANMC could be a daunting task, but for a 6-year-old athlete, a lot of the pressure of a major national competition isn’t as big a factor as it could be for an older competitor. Being a kid comes in handy during these times and having a strong support group to encourage him along the way has taken Hunter this far and with a chance to succeed at the next level, he’s hoping to rise to the challenge. 

Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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