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Utica High grad Freddie Crittenden (middle) is an All-American hurdler at Syracuse University. (Photo courtesy of Cuse.com)

Track And Field

Crittenden successfully handles life's hurdles

Utica High grad stars at Syracuse University

The transition was jarring.

Freddie Crittenden III, a certifiable track star at Utica High School, found himself training with Jarret Eaton, the NCAA Indoor Champion in the 60-meter hurdles.

Crittenden was an incoming freshman at Syracuse University.

“It was like `Wow! Jarret would destroy me to the first hurdle. He made me look stupid. It put things in perspective quickly. High school is a completely different game than college,” said Crittenden, chuckling.

Those kinds of moments are litmus tests. Some high school stars never recover. They quit the team, pack up their stuff, and go back home to bask in the fading light of their former glory.

Crittenden opted for something else.

“If you are a true competitor, you accept it as a challenge. If you see a person as talented as Jarret, you want to work hard to get to that level if you can. You are excited about the possibilities. It is that way in life in general. You have to accept the challenge.

“Jarret had been there. He put his time in. He worked really hard to achieve his success. That’s why I have been working hard every single day since I have arrived at Syracuse. I lift and I sprint and I do everything I can. The goal is to be better tomorrow than I am today. That’s why I am never nervous when I see another athlete at a competition. I know I have worked as hard as I can. I might get beat, but it will not because anyone has out-worked me,” said Crittenden.

All of that hard work has resulted in his own successes.

Crittenden finished second in the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA indoor championships held March 10-11 in College Station, Texas. That finish helped lead the Syracuse men to a 10th place finish, the best in program history.

It was the second consecutive year that Crittenden has finished second in the event at the NCAA indoor championships.

Last month, Florida’s Grant Holloway pulled away late to capture the title in 7.58 seconds. Crittenden finished in 7.67 seconds.

Crittenden is a two-time first team All-American (2016 110m hurdles outdoor, 60m hurdles indoor); a two-time second team All-American (2015 110m hurdles outdoor, 2014 110m hurdles outdoor); and a four-time All-ACC selection (2016 indoor, outdoor, 2015 outdoor, 2014 outdoor)

This year, he was first in the 60 m hurdles at the ACC championships with a time of 7.65. He finished first in the 60 hurdles at the Deneault Memorial Invitational in 7.78 and he ran to another first place finish in the 60 hurdles at the Villanova Open in 7.67.

His top times in the 60 hurdles indoors is 7.64. In the 110 hurdles outdoors it’s 13.48.

“It’s definitely been a wild ride,” said Crittenden. “Going on from high school and doing the things I’ve done has been a blessing. There are so many talented, promising athletes in high school who do not successfully make the transition to college. It just doesn’t work out for them for a variety of reasons. I am definitely happy with my career and hope the blessings continue.”

The Syracuse men’s track and field team will compete at the Miami Invitational this weekend. Crittenden will be in the 110 hurdles as well as the 4-by-100 relay. The NCAA outdoor championships will be June 7-10 in Eugene, Oregon. The USATF Championships will be in Sacramento in late June.

“I want to win nationals. I want to win the USA’s. I want to go to London for the world championships,” said Crittenden, laughing.

The IAAF World Championships will open in London on August 4.

Crittenden has put in the work. Maybe it is time to really reap the benefits.

Last Updated: 4/4/2017 10:17:38 PM EST