Track & Field: 7 is heaven for OU heptathlete

Ohio freshman Chanda Cuckler clears a hurdle at OU’s Goldberry Track. Cuckler, who grew up just 10 minutes away and attended Federal Hocking High School, competes in the heptathlon for the Bobcats, an event that includes the high jump, long jump, 200-meter race, 800-meter race, shot put, javelin and 100-meter hurdles. (GREG ROBERTS | Picture Editor)

Freshman Chanda Cuckler — sometimes called “CC” for short — was known for her high jumps and hurdles when she competed at Federal Hocking High School. Only a few months after her graduation, she competed in not one, not two, but seven track and field events for the Bobcats.

Cuckler’s main area of expertise is the heptathlon, a combination of seven events comprising the high jump, long jump, 200-meter race, 800-meter race, shot put, javelin and 100-meter hurdles.

“It’s a hard transition for certain people. Your bodies aren’t made to do certain things,” said throws coach Nick Pero. “But if you’re athletic enough and can handle it, you’ll learn it.”

Cuckler did jumps and hurdles in high school, but she had to learn the shot put and javelin throws as a Bobcat. Pero, along with head coach Clay Calkins, said Cuckler faced the challenges by putting in more hours at practice.

“To make that transition from high school to the collegiate level, first and foremost, is a tough thing to do,” Calkins said. “And then to make that transition and still keep her performances up and transitioning into multi-events, she’s done a great job.”

The love of the sport has kept Cuckler in the game. And although she said the transition from high school to college was the biggest challenge this season — with more intense workouts, more pressure and more pain — she finds motivation from her parents and teammates.

Not far from home, Cuckler makes the 10-minute commute to and from practice and class everyday. Her dad, a former Federal Hocking Lancer and Ohio alum, is Cuckler’s loudest fan at the meets.

“She works really hard, but she likes to have fun,” Michael Cuckler said. “She is a very positive person, always trying to do better but loves to laugh, especially with her teammates.”

Cuckler’s dad is one of her biggest fans, but her teammates, now some of her best friends, made her feel both welcomed and determined to push through her soreness and wake up every day for practice.

“A lot of her positive characteristics that she had in high school have carried over with her to the college field, and those characteristics include her determination and focus,” said senior.

As her freshman year comes to a close, Cuckler is looking forward to competing in the heptathlon and high jump at the Mid-American Conference Championships this weekend in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. The last time she performed seven events in one meet was at the All-Ohio Championships on April 20 in Miami.

“I just want to make my family proud and the community proud that I have grown up in,” Cuckler said.
 

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