29th ID Soldier is jumping for gold

Spc. Shereese Cutler, a culinary specialist assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, assists in preparing a meal for her fellow Soldiers Feb. 10, 2018, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Marc Heaton)

Spc. Shereese Cutler, a culinary specialist assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, assists in preparing a meal for her fellow Soldiers Feb. 10, 2018, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Marc Heaton)

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — As the world focused its attention on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, one Virginia Army National Guard Soldier was setting her sights a little further, to the summer games in 2020.

Spc. Shereese Cutler, a culinary specialist assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, hopes to represent the United States in track and field at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Cutler, 26, was accepted into an Olympic development program with DC International Track and Field last year, but has been competing since she was nine years old.  When asked how she first became interested in track and field, Cutler says she drew a lot of inspiration from athletes she saw when she was young.

“I watched the 2000 Sydney Olympics and it was just a really historic games for track and field.  Cathy Freeman, Michael Johnson, Marion Jones, they all made history at those games.”

Recognizing her growing interest in the sport, her father encouraged her to join a club team later that year.  She has been running and competing ever since.

Cutler has participated in a number of collegiate, national, and international competitions and received an athletic scholarship to run track at California Polytechnic State University.

“The United States has never had a female triple-jumper in the Olympics,” Cutler said. “I want to win Olympic gold in the triple-jump.  I’m the type of person that when I say I want something, I go do it.”

While most National Guard Soldiers find it enough of a challenge to balance their civilian careers with their military duties, Cutler wanted more.  In addition to her almost fulltime athletic pursuits, Cutler recently began graduate studies, pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts degree in photography through Academy of Arts University.

In regard to her choice to join the National Guard, Cutler, who enlisted in 2016, says that motivation was different than what drives her to athletic excellence.

“I wanted to do something good.  Something that shows I am more than just an athlete.  The military fulfills other aspects of my personality. It was a good decision.”