UCF freshman reaches new heights
Freeman setting personal, program-best times in first year
Octavious Freeman is only a freshman and the way she sees it, she has no peers. The sensational Central Florida sprinter isn’t being cocky or disrespecting the other sprinters. It’s just how she is being trained. The secret to her super successful first year is pretty simple: Stay in her own lane.
Freeman is being trained to control what she can control, which is how she runs her race in her lane. If she has that down, and everything else takes care of itself. Nobody will argue with the results.
In her first collegiate 100-meter race, she produced a personal-best and school-record time of 11.10 at the Florida Relays, which was, at the time the fastest time in the world by a female this year. It was made all the more impressive by her being the only collegiate competitor in the field.
“She’s not afraid to race,” UCF coach Caryl Smith Gilbert said. “That she’s not afraid of the competition. That she loves the sport. When you have someone that loves the sport, they can overcome fear and be very good at it. I think the problem is with a lot of athletes they don’t truly love track and field. And if you don’t love it, it shows up one time or another.
“She ran that 11.10 and she was walking back and I [kiddingly] told her that was the worst 11.10 I’ve ever seen. I want her to do more. To run as fast as she can, and be as perfect as she can, and shoot for excellence."
She placed in her two events at the NCAA Indoor Championships, which was a big deal considering she had never done indoor before this season. Now she’s outside in her element and still setting the track world on its ear.
She has qualified for the US Olympic Trials in both the 100 and 200. So has her roommate and teammate, Aurieyall Scott. And she currently ranks third in the NCAA in the 100 meters and second in the 200 meters. Things could not be better for her.
“I’m more used to outdoor than indoor, so I think I am doing pretty good,” Freeman said. “And my better events are in the 100 and 200. I am out here to prove a point that freshmen can do as well as anyone else that’s in college. I guess I got my name out there.”
Did she ever, and it is because she has managed to stay injury-free and a determination to be the best runner each time out regardless of who she is against.
“[Opponents] don’t matter,” Freeman said. “I don’t pay attention to what anyone else does on the track. I just worry about myself out there.”
“I expect her to run the race the way I tell her to, and we’ll see what happens,” Smith Gilbert said. “We don’t really focus on other people and winning. We focus on how to run the race the right way so you can keep getting the same performance instead of getting it one time and wondering how you did it.”
She will be the favorite in her events at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships this weekend in New Orleans. Those kinds of expectations have been with her since her prep days, so that pressure is minimal. And so far being on the big stage collegiately hasn’t phased her either. That is no surprise to her coach.
“Did I expect this of her as a freshman? Yes,” Smith Gilbert said. “You kind of know who’s going to be able to handle things and she can handle it. That was the intention going into the season.
“She told me this is what she wanted to do and that is what we’ve been shooting for. I never hold any limits on any of my team members based on age, so we try to get everything we have out of them when we can get it.”
What Freeman wants to get is a spot on the Olympic team. It is a goal and one that looks attainable if she remains healthy and hungry. The former is by the grace of God, the latter is wholly up to a very determined Freeman.
“So far everything I have set for a goal I have completed it,” Freeman said. “But I realize that there’s always someone to take your spot. Anyone can get beaten on any given day. That’s motivation for me to always do my best. I am always going to give it that.”