By JULIAN BELL
FDU junior long jumper and sprinter Sarakaye Freeman knows something about winning.
“My number one goal this season is to make it to Nationals,” Freeman said. “I want to place in the top six.”
Freeman was named the Most Outstanding Performer in Jumps back at the Northeast Conference Championship in March when she narrowly out- jumped Natalia Hinton of Mount St. Mary’s by a 1/4-inch. She also placed fourth in the triple jump as a sophomore, a month earlier.
Freeman won despite competing with an injury.
“I was competing off a strained hamstring,” she said. Freeman has been a star since her freshman year. She was named Most Outstanding Rookie Performer, in the top eight of nine events in the long and triple jump. She also placed fifth in the triple jump at the Fastrack Last Chance in her first year and placed second in the long jump at the NEC Championships and third in the triple, earning her a spot on the NEC All-Rookie Team.
Freeman said her success is about mental toughness.
“Competing in high school, compared to competing in college, are two completely different scenarios,” Freeman said. “There are different types of emotions, mindsets, and everything. When you compete in college it is legit. There is more of a mental battle than physical because if you walk in and look defeated, it doesn’t matter if you’re better than everyone else. If you’re mindset is messed up, you already lost.”
Freeman excelled in track and field early on in her high school career, when she competed in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays, along with her specialties, the long and triple jumps.
Despite her talent, college was a whole new level. “In high school for me, it was more fun,” Freeman said. “I didn’t really think or care about other people, but when I got to college, it was more like business when you went to compete. The only adjustment I really had to make when I came to FDU was to my technique and basically everything I knew about jumping. I had to change it and conform to my new coaches’ teaching ways.”
Freeman caught on quickly and has since made her mark in the record books.
“It didn’t take me long,” Freeman said. “I won my first collegiate competition (in) my sophomore year of indoor season. I received first place in the NEC Champs for women’s long jump, along with the award for Most Outstanding Female Field Athlete.”
Last season, she finished seventh in the long jump at the NEC Championships and achieved a personal best of 11.10 meters in the triple jump in March. She also placed fifth at the Wagner Invitational and sixth at the Fordham Season Opener in long jump. Her most recent performances include a personal best for three different events. She ran the 100m in 13.73 seconds, finished with a 27.53 in the 200m, and 1:02.37 in the 400m, when she finished 23rd at Towson.
Freeman’s confidence comes from her early years of experience, which might help land her on the podium again this year.
“I started when I was in elementary school, when I was 12 or 13,” Freeman said. “My first competition was a fun experience. In my mind, I felt like I was faster than all of the girls there. So when it came to the race, I wasn’t nervous at all and I ended up doing really well.”