TERRE HAUTE —
Keirra Porter enjoys being different.
So she didn’t mind becoming a hurdler for Chauncey Rose Middle School’s seventh-grade girls track and field team when nobody else wanted to do it almost three years ago.
Porter even tripped over hurdles a few times as a youngster, but she didn’t let that bother her as much as some of her friends did.
“It’ll happen to everyone at least once,” she told the Tribune-Star. “It’s not fun to hit a hurdle. It hurts really bad. Sometimes you fall or sometimes you can catch yourself to keep from falling.”
Despite her occasional spills, she ended up liking the event more than any other in track and field — once she fixed her poor form when she transferred to Woodrow Wilson as an eighth-grader.
“I was five-stepping and my legs were too long to do it that way,” Porter recalled, adding that Wilson eighth-grade boys coach Pattie Carrick improved her form by persuading her to use a three-step technique.
“It only took me a couple practices to get [the three-step technique] down. It helped me a lot.”
Now a 15-year-old sophomore at Terre Haute North — which Porter represented with a 12th-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles (15.38 seconds) in the IHSAA girls state finals June 1 at Bloomington — she wants to do more with her unique athletic skills.
Porter has accepted an invitation to enter the 2013 Down Under International Games in Brisbane, Australia. She plans to leave June 30, compete in the 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash and possibly the 400-meter relay July 3-5 and return home July 11.
But there’s one catch. She and her family must raise $5,500 by May 31 to pay for travel and living expenses in Australia. So far, they’re up to about $500.
Although they would greatly appreciate donations, they are working to generate funds through bake sales, T-shirt sales, an upcoming bowl-a-thon at Terre Haute Bowling Center (date to be determined) and car washes in the spring.
Keirra’s mother, Taniya Porter, hopes to accompany her on the trip, depending on how much money they can raise.
The Porters were first contacted by Down Under Sports in late August.
“I was excited,” admitted young Porter, who’s been doing off-season training under the guidance of veteran coach Pete Jones recently. “I wanted to do it.”
Keirra Porter said her goal for this meet is to “do the very best I can do” because predicting an exact placing would be pointless. She has no idea what type of competition from her age group she’ll be up against, although she assumes it will be tough.
North girls track coach Mike Dason believes she will represent her school, her hometown and her country just fine.
“She was the fastest freshman hurdler last season at the state meet,” he pointed out. “She’s just a natural. I would compare her to [former North track standouts] Jennifer Macke and Kylie Hutson as far as being all-around athletes. She just has the gift and the talent… It’ll be interesting to see how she does competing against people from around the world.”
Porter is much more specific about her long-range goal, which is to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She’d also like to attend an NCAA Division I college on a track scholarship, but she hasn’t decided which one yet.
She’s got plenty of time for that. After all, first things first — her trip to Australia next summer.
“I’m really excited for her,” Taniya Porter mentioned. “I’m really hoping we’re able to get her there. I think it will be a good experience for her — running with and against people from different countries and different parts of the world — especially since she wants to go to the Olympics someday.
“Also, we were told she will be able to get two or three days of sightseeing in while she’s there. I think that will be a great experience as well.”
To inquire about helping Keirra Porter pay for the trip, call her mother at (812) 244-3764 or her grandmother Margistine Porter at (812) 234-4662 for details.
More information about Down Under Sports can be found online at www.DownUnderSports.com.
• To inquire about helping Keirra Porter pay for the trip to Australia for the 2013 Down Under International Games, call her mother, Taniya Porter, at 812-244-3764 or her grandmother, Margistine Porter, at 812-234-4662 for details.