ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
GHS's Kinsler dominates at state, shatters previous record set last year
Published: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 9:31 p.m.
A year after comfortably winning her first state title, Jessica Kinsler cleared the only competition left at Saturday's FHSAA weightlifting championships in Kissimmee — her own record.
As the defending champion in the 154-pound weight class, Kinsler shattered her previous state mark in the bench press with a 225-pound effort. Last season, the junior lifter locked 210 pounds, which was already 10 pounds heavier than the prior state record.
“We set a goal from the state meet last year to hit 225, and she worked really hard,” GHS coach Steve Bauer. “She's been conditioning since last year and working out in the gym. The sky's the limit. We're hoping for 250 next year.”
With a clean-and-jerk of 175 pounds — tied for second-most in her division — Kinsler compiled a 400-pound total to earn another championship medal at the Kissimmee Civic Center.
Kinsler's final score was 60 pounds more than her nearest competitor in the 30-lifter field and just the third overall total to reach the 400-pound plateau at the state meet, regardless of weight class.
“It's kind of weird,” Bauer said. “Here's an unlimited girl and here's Jessica, not an unlimited and only a 154-pounder ... she's a unique kid with unique strength.”
While Kinsler has a competitive clean-and-jerk average, the key to her sustained success at 154 pounds is her focus to improve her powerful bench press.
Kinsler took third place at the state meet as a freshman with a 185-pound bench, but then made a 25-pound leap to claim her first championship after a stringent offseason regimen.
“She has a great work ethic,” Bauer said. “I pretty much have to say, ‘Hey, it's time to go home. It's 6:30 or 7 o'clock,' when we're in season. I can't get her out of the weight room. It's incredible how hard she works.”
Heading into her senior year, Kinsler has the opportunity to not only complete a three-peat at the 154 class, but also kindle some of her dreams beyond high school. Bauer said he's planning on training with Kinsler on her Olympic-style lifts like the snatch and clean-and-jerk this summer.
“She wants to do some Olympic lifting, so we're looking into that,” Bauer said. “She's hoping to go to the Olympics in 2016.”
BREANNA THOMAS, GAINESVILLE: The junior lifter finished fourth overall in the 169-pound weight class at Saturday's state championship meet with a 330-pound total. Thomas benched 170 pounds and had a clean-and-jerk of 160 pounds to clear the top 5.
JIMMIE TAYLOR III, SUWANNEE: The senior shooting guard had back-to-back games with at least 20 points and 9 rebounds for the runner-up Bulldogs in last week's District 2-5A tournament. On Friday in a 60-44 win against Wakulla, Taylor scored 20 points with 9 boards and 6 assists. A day later, he notched 24 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists in a 60-49 district final loss to Tallahassee Rickards.
KALEN MCGILL, P.K. YONGE: A junior pitcher, McGill led the Blue Wave to a pair of shutout victories last week against St. Francis and Union County. On Tuesday, she tossed 3 scoreless innings in a 15-0 win against the Wolves with six strikeouts and 1 hit surrendered. In Friday's 4-0 victory over the Tigers, McGill pitched a complete game with 9 strikeouts. Her bat was also effective in both games as she went a combined 4-for-6 at the plate with 5 RBIs.
JON GARDNER, GAINESVILLE: The junior 120-pound wrestler won a Class 2A, Region 1 on Saturday with a 6-2 decision against Eastside's Rashaad Bennett. Gardner, who is one of five Gainesville wrestlers to advance to next week's state meet, helped the Hurricanes finish second as a team with 2 pins and 2 decisions in the 16-man bracket.
KEVARRIUS HAYES, SUWANNEE: A 6-foot-8 center, Hayes posted 7 points, 13 rebounds and 9 blocks last Friday in the Bulldogs' District 2-5A semifinal win against Wakulla. On Saturday's district championship loss to Rickards, the sophomore had a double-double with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Sunday between 4-7 p.m.