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 Utica High grad Freddie Crittenden is vying for a spot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Crittenden is currently ranked 10th in the world in the 110-meter hurdles.

Utica High grad Freddie Crittenden is vying for a spot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Crittenden is currently ranked 10th in the world in the 110-meter hurdles.

Photo by Jacob Herbert

Utica High grad aiming for 2020 Olympics

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 11, 2019


UTICA — In 2012, Freddie Crittenden sat and watched as track and field star Aries Merritt won a gold medal for Team USA in the Olympics. It was then and there that the then-Utica High student decided he wanted to be an Olympian.

Fast forward seven years later and Crittenden is living in Phoenix and training for the Olympic trials in June 2020.

“I think being an Olympian is one of the greatest honors any athlete can have,” Crittenden said Nov. 1 while home on a visit. “You’re etched into history and you’re part of a small percentage of some of the greatest athletes. It holds so much weight in my heart, and it’s something that I want to do.”

Crittenden’s Olympic journey started in high school with coach Roger White. Crittenden credits the coach with kick-starting his track and field career. Crittenden graduated from Utica in 2013 and competed for the Chieftains his junior and senior years. He won an individual state championship in the 110-meter hurdles in 2013.

“I made some crazy progress with not even being ranked at all to being U.S. No. 1 and winning a national championship in high school,” Crittenden said. “Roger White helped me come from being a good track and field athlete to being a national-caliber athlete.”

After high school, Crittenden received a full scholarship to Syracuse University, where he broke school records in the 110-meter high hurdles and the 4x100 relays.

Since graduating from Syracuse and turning pro in 2017, Crittenden has made substantial strides. He was a Diamond League finalist in 2018 and 2019 and a silver medalist in the 2019 Pan American Games. He won gold in the 2019 World Relays and was a 2019 U.S. National Championship finalist, missing the World Championship by 0.01 second.

According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, Crittenden ranks 10th in the world in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. He has ranked as high as sixth, a placing he held for five weeks.

Through all international events he’s competed in this year, Crittenden has never finished below seventh place. He said he owes his consistency to training and paying attention to his body.

“Being in tune with your body is the main thing,” he said. “I think if you’re in tune with your body, you know when to push it and you know when to go to this race or pull out of this race. Being in tune with my body has really put me in a position where I can compete for a top-three spot in any race.”

Crittenden needs a top-three finish in the Olympic trials to move on to Tokyo in 2020. He said he feels confident in his abilities to do what needs to be done in order to get there.

Competing in the Olympics would mean “the world” to him. Should he get there, he plans to give back to the community that helped give him his start.

“If I can make it to the Olympics, I want to come back here,” he said. “I want to have a track meet here or a yearly event where I can give back to Utica and be a part of the community. I would definitely bring the medal back here and try to do something for Utica. This is where my journey accelerated.”