New faces, same goals


photo by Jada Llamido

Senior Hope lusher is clean and jerking 130 pounds. The team lost 59-31 to Winter Springs.

Senior Mari McCluskey chalked up her hands getting ready to do a clean and jerk. She knew she could take it easier during the meet because she was only competing against one opponent, but she still wanted to perform her best. She grabbed the metal bar and used all of her power to complete the lift. Only her bench press was left, and McCluskey won the ultimate weight class benching 115 pounds and lifting 134 pounds for the clean and jerk.

“I am proud of what I was able to complete at the meet,” McCluskey said. “There were some things that I could have done better, but it tells me what I can improve on for the future.”

The girls varsity weightlifting team is looking to continue a tradition of district and state excellence, and they competed in their first meet of the season against Lake Howell on Wednesday, Nov. 3. The team won 63-12 and members came away impressed.

“I think the meet went great considering it was the start of the season and how many new girls joined the team this year,” senior Kailey Tedeschi said. “Everyone lifted great and supported each other the whole meet.”

Not only did the team win, but multiple girls won their weight class. Like McCluskey, senior Chloe Varady also won her 169 weight class, benching 135 pounds and lifting 125 pounds for the clean and jerk. Both girls were able to win with minimal competition because only a few people participated in the meet.

“I didn’t have any competition in my weight class – I was the only one competing,” Varady said. “I was able to get an easy win for myself and the team.”

While the first meet against Lake Howell was expected to be a win, the real challenge would come against Winter Springs, an opponent the weightlifting team consistently competes against for district and regional championships. The girls fell to Winter Springs 59-31 making their record 1-1.

 The team viewed both meets as an opportunity to see where they are at and how they will be able to improve in the future. It also serves as a benchmark for the season. 

“The meets showed us where we currently are and where we can be,” McCluskey said.

One of the main goals for the team would be to win districts, regionals, and get to states.

“I feel like we are well prepared for the rest of the season,” head coach David Attaway said. “We did fantastic this past meet so I have high hopes we will go far in districts and regionals.”

 One of the other goals for the team would be to support and be there for their teammates and get closer with each other outside of only talking about practice according to the lifters.

“Sometimes before meets, we will go get food then bring it back to the school and eat together,” Tedeschi said. “Also during breaks in the meet, we will all sit together and get to know each other while talking.” 

The girls practice every day, even before meets, and compete on Wednesdays. Practices consist of dynamic stretches to warm-up followed by a program made up of certain things to work on for the meet. These specific programs include working on their lifting technique by targeting a certain muscle group like the arms or legs.

The team has a shorter season this year with only six more meets left until districts start. Seminole Athletic Conference championships will take place on Dec. 15, districts on Jan. 19, regionals on Jan. 29, and the state championships will be Saturday, Feb. 12. The girls have high hopes that they will make it far this year based on past success, even if the majority of the team is new.

“I think we are going to do great in the postseason,” McCluskey said. “We have a lot of new girls this year and they are starting out incredibly strong. It is very impressive to see.”

The girls next meet is on Dec. 1 against Lake Mary at Hagerty.  Tickets can be found on