Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant
Favoarite teams: Philadelphia Phillies/Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning all the (wrestling) championships I've won.
Funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: All the road trips with the wrestling team.
Music on iPod: Rap/Hip-Hop
Future plans: Attend the University of Hartford and major in communications
Words to live by: Hard work pays off.
One goal before turning 30: Go to Hawaii
One thing people don't know about me: I have five brothers and sisters.
By Alex Frazier
Jesse Prante is a throwback.
By ninth grade, most kids today have decided on their major sport and have jettisoned the rest.
The Norristown senior has been playing three sports, although not all the same, since he was five years old.
He started wrestling when he was four and added football and baseball.
When he was 10 or 11 he started playing lacrosse for the Norristown PAL.
“When I was 12 my dad said, ‘All right, this is getting to be too much. Pick baseball or lacrosse, whichever one you like more,’” said Prante. “I started to like lacrosse more so I stuck with lacrosse.”
In ninth grade he was the quarterback for the freshman football team, but he gave that up in 10th grade to play soccer.
“Football started not being as fun for me,” he said. “I didn’t see anything going with it. A lot of my friends played soccer, so I tried soccer and liked it.”
Not only just soccer but a soccer goalie. He played jayvee for two years before finally sharing time in goal as a starter when he was a senior.
“It takes less skill and footwork,” he said.
But his two favorite sports were always wrestling and lacrosse.
This year he turned in a career best wrestling season after three mediocre seasons. As a freshman he was just 3-1. In his sophomore year he wrestled 45 matches, just missing a winning season at 22-23. Last year he missed the beginning of the season but came back to finish 9-8.
This year Norristown had its toughest schedule ever, and Prante put together a 40-11 record with 23 pins, finishing first in the Section Three Tournament and placing fourth in districts to qualify for regionals for the first time.
He was also named First Team American Conference.
What makes his accomplishment this year even more significant is the fact that he was wrestling at 220 pounds when his natural weight was only 185.
As wrestling coach Mark Harner said, “On any other team he would wrestle 170.”
Prante admits that he was reluctant to make such a big jump. In the end he sacrificed for the team.
“After a couple of matches, it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “It worked out pretty well.”
His vast experience helped him against bigger foes.
“A lot of the kids were definitely bigger than me, but not a lot of them were better than me,” said Prante.
The Eagles had to do a lot of weight shuffling to fill out the lineup in the upper weights. Harner even tried to get him to heavyweight, but Prante couldn’t bulk up enough to make the minimum weight for 285.
As Prante began winning at 220, he gained more and more confidence.
No more was that evident than when he majored Central Dauphin’s Ben Mosey 14-2 at the state dual meet championships.
“You tell me a couple of years ago he could start for Central Dauphin, I would have had my doubts,” said Harner. “He worked harder this year. He’s played second fiddle behind those kids, but this year, he said, ‘I want to be there.’”
Prante’s success this year can be attributed in large part to his mental outlook.
“He found a way to wrestle the bigger kids,” said Harner. “He got really confident. He was pretty good when he was younger and he seemed to regain confidence this year that he didn’t have the last couple of years of high school.”
Harner believes that with a little bit of luck, Prante could have placed at states. You only have to look to his district consolation match against Quakertown’s Matt Jorgenson, who beat him 3-1 in an overtime rideout. Jorgenson went on to place eighth at states.
“He’s always had the ability,” said Harner. “He’s a smart kid.”
Prante’s success in wrestling is carrying over to the lacrosse field, where he has been a four-year starter for the Eagles.
In his first game against Harry S Truman, he scored five goals and dished out four assists.
He was limited to just a single goal in the Eagles' second game against Upper Merion, one of the top teams in the league.
“Each year his stats have gotten a little better,” said Norristown lacrosse coach Jeff Calhoun.
At 6-1, 185, Prante is built more like a defenseman, but he has been playing attack since he started playing the game. He claims that’s an advantage.
Coupled with his size, he is also quick and agile.
“He has real good stick work,” said Calhoun. “I show him a play and he knows how to run it after one time through it. He’s very coachable and smart.”
Prante’s unselfishness is also evident in lacrosse.
“If I need him to play midfield a couple of shifts, there’s no problem,” said Calhoun. “He’s out there. He’s a team player.”
And his teammates regard him highly.
“He’s well liked,” said Harner.
“He’s a unique individual,” said Calhoun. “Jesse’s a good kid. He comes out to practice every day. Everything he does he likes to have fun as well as work hard.”
Academically, Prante carries a 3.0 grade point average and is ranked 145 out of 422 in his class.
If it’s not already evident, Prante’s life is consumed with sports. And that’s not likely to change any time soon.
He will be attending Hartford University next year. He chose Hartford over Indiana University of Pa. and Temple because of its communications department. He is interested in sports journalism. And it’s certainly no coincidence that the school is next door to the ESPN studios.
“Sports are a really big part of my life,” he said. “I watch Sports Center all the time. They have internships with ESPN so hopefully I’ll go there, major in communications and get a job with ESPN.”
Prante has not been recruited by Hartford for lacrosse, but he hopes to walk on.
“I’ve contacted the lacrosse coach several times on his behalf,” said Calhoun. “I’m trying to get him a walk-on invitation. He’s a prototypical D-1 attackman. He has the potential. He’s just a good overall athlete.”