PALMETTO -- Southeast senior Cathyarleen Porter spent a couple weeks battling an illness that limited the weightlifter's training.
But rather than letting that bother her, Porter is easing back into the sport.
On Thursday at Palmetto High, Porter totaled 390 pounds combined in the bench press and clean and jerk to win the unlimited weight division at the District 8 Sub-Qualifier meet. She outlifted her nearest competitor, Bayshore's Sierra Sanders, by 50 pounds.
The top three in each weight class advanced to the district qualifier Jan. 22 at Punta Gorda Charlotte.
"It doesn't matter how strong you are, what your size is, your height, you just come and you have to stick with it and be dedicated," Porter said.
Porter took fourth place in the state meet last year, and gained considerable experience from that competition. This year, she has a target goal in mind: somewhere between 430 and 440 pounds. Porter said if she totals that at this year's state meet, she should win a state championship.
If that occurs, Southeast coach K.C. Dunlop will have a second girls weightlifter to claim a state title after Kelsey Vance triumphed in 2010.
"She's only 10 pounds off of her best," Dunlop said. "... Ideally, her total will be around about 430 or 440."
Porter was introduced to the sport by her sister, Caland McGruder, and ended up getting hooked. On Tuesday, she benched 230 pounds and lifted 160 pounds in the clean and jerk portion.
Her last attempt was at 180 pounds, but she couldn't get it.
"I've done it before," Porter said. "It's always the clean that's getting me. The jerk is fine."
Other division winners included Palmetto's De'zha Cooper (101-pound weight class), Manatee's Heather
Ball (110-pound class), Palmetto's Jessica McKinney (119-pound class), Lakewood Ranch's Riley Bohan (129-pound class), Manatee's Destiny White (139-pound class), Manatee's Tyreona Williams (154-pound class), Braden River's Sarah Weiss (169-pound class), Manatee's Dannah Ventresca (183-pound class) and Bayshore's Alyssa Page (199-pound class).
Other qualifiers included Palmetto's Jasmine Ibarra (101 pounds), Palmetto's Halley Lawrence (110 pounds), Lakewood Ranch's Emily Perez (110 pounds), Manatee's Sibella Glavan (119 pounds), Lakewood Ranch's Rheya Jackson (119 pounds), Braden River's Spirit Cress (129 pounds), Lakewood Ranch's Carolyn Super (129 pounds), Lakewood Ranch's Mariah Higgins (139 pounds), Manatee's Brooke Schamber (139 pounds), Braden River's Taylor Wallace (154 pounds), Bayshore's Priscilla Orena (154 pounds), Palmetto's Elizabeth Atkinson (169 pounds), Manatee's Jacqui Armer (169 pounds), Manatee's Morgan O'Quinn (183 pounds), Bayshore's Shelby Whetsel (183 pounds), Manatee's Baylee Bayer (199 pounds), Sanders (unlimited division) and Palmetto's Janae Braag (unlimited division).