Ulysses Freed of Keystone Heights High School was only able to participate in one sport during his senior year due to a shoulder injury.
However, the Class of 2022 graduate made it memorable.
Freed was part of a second straight team state title for the Indians and he also won two individual state titles.
"Very exhilarating, had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming,” he said. “After putting in so much work to get there and finally completing your goal, it felt amazing."
He won both the traditional and the newly implemented snatch competition in the 154-pound division at the FHSAA state meet this past April.
While his head coach, Lantz Lowery, was named the Florida Dairy Farmers 2022 Boys Weightlifting Coach-of-the-Year, Freed was named runner-up for the Mr. Weightlifting award.
“He’s the one weightlifter that we had that won at both levels,” Lowery said. “We kind of held him back a little there because he won it with a 200-pound snatch and had another 25 or 30 pounds in him but we needed him to get ready for the traditional.”
Since the snatch competition was an inaugural event, everyone who competed in the snatch this year set a state record.
“Ulysses is a very tenacious athlete,” Lowery said. “To be able to return from shoulder surgery within 11 months and compete and win two state championships speaks highly.”
Freed was recognized as the top overall weightlifter in Class 1A by the Florida Dairy Farmers.
"It means all the hard work, the sweat and blood I put into this sport all paid off, and I hope it shows others that no matter what you're going through, as long as you have the drive to get through it, you can do it,” Freed said.
His personal bests that he never managed to get at state were 290 pounds on bench, 265 pounds on clean and jerk, and 215 pounds on snatch.
Among his achievements, he was a district champion and placed second at the regional championship and placed 12th at the state meet as a freshman. By the time he became a senior, he was an all-county champion, a district champ, a regional champ, and earned two state titles.
Plus, he graduated with honors, excelling in the classroom too.
In addition to the state titles, Freed had a couple of other memorable moments in high school.
"Winning the Suwannee Invitational in 2021 after hearing all of the trash talk towards Keystone, and landing my snatch lift at the 2022 district meet on one foot,” he said.
While Freed said that his high school experience was “full of ups and downs” that he had to push through and overcome, there are things about his sports career that he will always remember.
"Definitely the people I met at the meets, my teammates I worked my butt off with, and the coaches who always pushed you to do better,” he said.
Now that he has graduated from high school, Freed is hoping to parlay his experiences into something even more memorable.
"I hope to make it into the Olympics for weightlifting, and go to school for welding,” he said.
That's my boy!! So proud of the work and dedication he put into a season that we THOUGHT was just gonna be a kind of rehab time. We are SO proud of him!