Despite hurdles, Utica’s Crittenden is at home on the track

By: Jon Malavolti | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 13, 2012

 Utica High’s Freddie Crittenden earned All-State honors in the 110-meter hurdles at the June 2 Division 1 MHSAA track and field state finals.

Utica High’s Freddie Crittenden earned All-State honors in the 110-meter hurdles at the June 2 Division 1 MHSAA track and field state finals.

File photo by Donna Agusti

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Obstacles.

Sports are full of them.

And when it comes to track and field, the hurdles races are literally full of them.

One after another, each hurdle presents a new challenge to athletes as they compete.

But for Utica High’s Freddie Crittenden, the hurdles on the track have become a welcome sight.

It’s where he excels, and it’s how he’s made friends at his new school.

Crittenden started this past school year as a junior and new student at Utica after moving here from Missouri. He ended it by earning All-State honors at the Division 1 MHSAA state finals June 2 at East Kentwood.

He stated that making the move last year was “rough,” but track has helped that transition “a lot.”

“All the people I met in track, they’re really close friends with seeing them every day, and the chemistry of being together, making memories every track meet,” he said.

Crittenden finished in third place of the 110-meter high hurdles race at the finals. He had hoped to perform better.

“I kind of feel disappointed,” he said. “But I’m proud about how far I’ve gotten to get to the state meet. I could have done better.”

Crittenden’s official time at the state finals was 14.93 seconds. But he had qualified for the finals after running a personal-best time of 14.2 at the regional meet a couple of weeks earlier — the second-fastest posted regional time in the state.

Ann Arbor Pioneer senior Drake Johnson, whose 13.9 regional time was the only one faster than Crittenden’s, won the state title after running a 14.2 at the finals. Birmingham Groves sophomore Ross Williams was second at 14.62.

The disappointment has left Crittenden motivated heading into the summer, when he’ll continue to train hard in hopes of competing in prestigious events, such as the AAU Nationals and Junior World Championships.

“I’ve got to do a lot of training,” he said.

But that’s nothing new for Crittenden, who only just started regularly competing in the 110 hurdles this past season.

“This was my first year doing 110, so I’m kind of new to that,” he said.

Crittenden started running track midway through elementary school, but stopped for a while in middle school to instead focus on basketball. He returned to the track in high school, but just ran the 300 hurdles until a growth spurt and training helped him expand his repertoire.

“Last year, I couldn’t do 110 at all. My agility was a lot worse, and I was a little bit shorter,” he said.

He estimates he grew from 5 feet 11 inches tall to 6 feet 1 1/2 inches tall. As for the improved agility, he credits his hurdles coach, Roger White, with helping lead his training efforts.

“I did a lot of working out,” he said. “Weightlifting every day, things I ate, drank a lot of water. I started in beginning in the November through now.”

All that training has led to quite an impressive season for the new kid in town, who set several records, including the 110 and 300 at the school and the 110 at the Macomb Area Conference White Division meet. Crittenden helped the Chieftains boys win the division- and dual-meet titles, as well as helping lead them to the Macomb County Championship Meet title. His personal-best and record-setting time in the 300 this year was 38.1.

While concentrating on improving and achieving more success next season at Utica, Crittenden is also thinking long term about track — competing in college — something he didn’t do when he first started running.

“I didn’t think too much about it when I was younger,” he said. “I just fell in love with it after the first year of high school. I would love to run in college.”

Crittenden said his coaches have been contacted by a couple of Big Ten schools. He said he’d like to study psychology in college.

He wants to help people overcome their own obstacles.

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