t took four years, but Windermere Prep finally earned its first medal at the state competition for weightlifting. And it was only fitting that one of the original members who had been with the team for all four years was the one to do it.
Cati Camilli saw all the hard work she put in come to fruition at Port St. Joe as she finished tied for fifth place in the 169-pound division with a combined score of 290. Scores are determined by the maximum weight lifted in bench press and clean and jerk with the two combined.
The top six at the competition receive medals, so Camilli became the first Windermere Prep weightlifter to win a medal at the state competition.
“It feels very rewarding because we worked hard the whole season to get to this point,” Camilli said. “Four years of hard work since freshman year, and working out every summer instead of traveling and going out, it all proved worth it in the end.”
Two other Laker lifters, Liza Thompson and Carissa Ruiz, finished in the top 10 in their weight divisions, as well, giving Windermere Prep its best performance at the state competition so far.
All that hard work and sacrifice was something Camilli was more than happy to put in, especially since she was getting reinforcement from home. She and her brother Enrico worked out together during the summers — so to win a medal at states in her senior year was extra special.
“It was worth it because I saw a growth not only in the weight I could lift, but in my mindset, as well,” Camilli said. “I learned so much from my coaches about hard work and perseverance and not having fear. It’s life lessons I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. Some people take years to learn that, but I learned it through my four years of high school.”
Head weightlifting coach Micah Kurtz knew from the start when Camilli began working out with the team that she was going to be great. They both came to Windermere Prep around the same time. To see all that hard work result in the program’s first medal at states was icing on the cake for him.
“The biggest thing as a coach is you want to instill the work ethic and confidence in your athletes to go out and do great things,” Kurtz said. “Cati believed in us and believed in our programming, and she definitely put in the work. When you see your athletes that believe in you and work hard, to see them go out and have success is awesome to see. She worked hard.”
As she stood on the podium with the other medalists, Camilli saw her entire family looking at her with pride at her accomplishment. She then reflected on her journey to get to this point. From making districts her junior year to now, standing on the podium her senior year, it was the culmination of everything she had experienced.
“The fact they drove six hours and waited until 10 p.m. to see that moment was special,” Camilli said.
Camilli will be attending Florida State University next year and is looking to study nutrition and kinesiology while continuing to lift weights. She wants to follow in her brother’s footsteps and continue to be around the weight room in any capacity.