ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Ketondra Cuyler

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  • | 1:30 a.m. January 22, 2015
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With just the Sectional meet (Jan. 21 at Timber Creek) and the 2015 FHSAA Girls Weightlifting Championships (Feb. 7 in Kissimmee) remaining on the schedule, Dr. Phillips junior Ketondra Cuyler has set the tone for a run at a state championship. Cuyler took the top spot in the Unlimited weight class at the Sub-Sectional meet on Jan. 9 at Ocoee High School, lifting a combined 410 pounds — which would have put her at third in the state a year ago.

You placed first in your weight class at Sub-Sectionals by combining to lift 410 pounds. How did you feel out there that day?

At the beginning I was kind of nervous, like ‘it’s do-or-die.’ Then I just got hyped for my team, turned it up a little bit, and once I started lifting, it just kicked in, and I felt like my normal self.

How was it that you initially got involved with the girls weightlifting program?

My (older) sister was doing it, so I was like, ‘I’m going to do what she does.’

So what do you like about the sport?

From Day One, I loved it — I was like, ‘This feels normal.’ I don’t know, it’s just the feeling you get when you lift.

Can you describe a particular area of improvement you’ve bettered over the years and what you learned to attain it?

My freshman year, my clean-and-jerk was horrible, and it’s just rising up now. It’s all technique. Once you get technique, it just gets better and better. If you’re just lifting to win, it’s not fun. You have to be lifting to have fun — you have to love it.

Which lift do you prefer — the bench press or the clean-and-jerk?

I love them both. Clean-and-jerk because I feel like my technique is getting better, and then bench because it’s a challenge for me; and I love challenges.

What’s the most you’ve lifted in each lift — either in practice or at a meet?

I’ve hit 225 (pounds) in bench — I haven’t done it in competition yet. That’s my goal for this week coming up. My clean-and-jerk max is 195 (pounds); I’m aiming for 205.

What’s the camaraderie like on the team?

It’s just pure love — we’re family. They’re like my sisters. The love never goes anywhere.

Do you participate in any other sports at Dr. Phillips?

I do track and field. I throw the discus and the shotput.

What’s it like having girls come out for the team whose background is a different sport?

It makes us different. It makes us even better. Kelly (Gomez), she’s a great cheerleader and she came out here, and I had seen her doing the clean-and-jerk, and I’m like, ‘Whoa, she’s a beast.’ I love her. The softball girls, the other track girls, the flag football girls — it makes us who we are.

What’s your hope for these last few weeks of the season?

To win states — I want a ring! That’s my goal; that’s what I want.

When you’re not training for weightlifting or track, what do you like to do?

I mean, I hang out with my family and my friends. Play video games; basketball.

What’s your favorite sport to watch?

Football. My favorite team is probably the Seahawks because they have Marshawn Lynch. He’s a beast.

What’s your favorite class?


What do you think you’d like to do when you grow up?

I’m not 100% what I want to do, but I know I want to major in biology or something like that — help humankind, I guess.

Do you have any preference as to where you go to college?

I want to stay close to Florida, close to my family, but it would be nice to get a full-ride scholarship out of state.

What’s the vacation destination you would most like to visit?

Probably Hawaii, because everyone tells me it’s nice and it’s still in the United States.


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