When it rains, it pours.
For Cary-Grove graduate Josh Freeman that statement hits home both literally and figuratively.
On the figurative side, the sophomore shot-put thrower at the Southern Illinois University enjoyed an extremely fruitful off-season.
Freeman, who won state championships in the shot and disc his senior year at Cary-Grove, competed in both the USA Outdoor Track and Field Junior Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and the Pam-American Junior Athletics Championships in Medellin, Columbia.
Freeman, the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference outdoor champion in the shot put, threw 64-8 inches at the USA meet and finished second. That landed him on one of the two available spots on the junior U.S. team.
"It was on my very last throw," he said. "I made it by the hair of my chin."
As a member of that junior U.S. squad, Freeman then threw 66-4 and won the gold medal at the Pan-Am competition. He won the event by more than a half meter.
That's where the literal part comes in. Freeman won the Pan-Am competition despite less than ideal weather conditions that featured torrential rains at times.
"It started to rain real bad," he said. "In the preliminary round I got one clean throw off and then it started to pour. It was not easy to get throws off. I was lucky to get the one good one off and get to the finals. The weather cleared up in the finals and I was able to get a good throw."
Freeman's top throw came in the final round. He noted he also threw 69-6 in the finals but fouled. The near 70-foot toss came on his final throw.
"The ring still was slick," he said. "I could have broke the North American junior and Pan-American record by 3 feet with that throw. "I fouled. I was over the toe board. I set my foot down in the ring and it was slick and my foot slipped out. I put my hands outside the ring to break my fall and unfortunately that's not legal. When it rained before it was flooding. They cleared the water out with brooms, but it was still pretty slick. My foot slipped out underneath me."
Freeman, to say the least, was thrilled with his efforts.
"To do this well means a lot considering the people that are at these meets," he said. "To consider what they've done and to put me in relationship with them means so much. Now I know I am on the same path they are. Hopefully I'll be able to make a career out of this."
Freeman noted he's made one major change to his training regimen.
"I'm more proactive in my training outside of school," he said. "I'm eating better than I have been. I lost some unneeded weight and I got stronger. Losing that weight also made me faster. All the tools are coming together for me. I'm taking more of a 24-7 training approach. Freshman year, if I wasn't at practice maybe I wasn't really worrying about what I was doing and eating. Now, I manage everything I do and where I go."
Freeman is eager to get into the NCAA season, which starts Dec. 7 on the indoor side.
"December 7 is our first meet," he pointed out. "I'm going to get right back into training. You only have so much time until that season-opener."
Freeman did not make NCAA outdoor nationals last year after being sidelined with a sprained ankle.
"This year myself and the coaches looked at things and said if the training goes according to plan and I work hard I could be an All-American both indoor and outdoor. That's not out of the question," said Freeman, who is studying sports administration at SIU. "I have to put in a lot of hours and train and get everything done."
Freeman said he enjoys the individual aspects of throwing the shot.
"I feel like I'm always having a competition with myself," he said. "If you go to competitions where people might be throwing longer distances than you, the cool thing is you can always compete against yourself and try for a personal record. The other neat thing is you can see improvements in yourself on a regular basis. You always can do something better in practice. You don't have to wait for the game that next weekend. That's something that caught my attention."
Freeman marvels at the progress he's made in the event since leaving Cary-Grove.
"I've been looking at myself with what I did in high school and what I'm doing now," he said. "I thought I was doing well then. What I can do now is a big difference. But there is still a lot more to do. I'm sure I'll be surprised in another year. I've been surprised by the advances that I've made, but that's what happens when you put the time in."
As a freshman at SIU, Freeman earned two all-MVC honors in the shot put. He already ranks fifth all-time in program history in the indoor shot put and sixth in the outdoor version.
Freeman's 66-0 throw at Cary-Grove was the third-longest in state high school history. Freeman is Cary-Grove's all-time leader in boys' track and field points scored.
Moore earns honor: Elgin High School graduate Dennis Moore, now a sophomore running back at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was one of three individuals to share a recent Whitewater athlete of the week honor after the team's recent 17-7 win over Washington University-St. Louis.
Moore accounted for 71 yards of the team's offense in the fourth quarter alone, adding a touchdown that gave Whitewater the 17-7 margin. He rushed 12 times in the quarter with his biggest run of the game coming on a 28-yard touchdown jaunt on Whitewater's first play after a fumble recovery.
Off at College wants your help: Send information and/or statistics on Fox Valley-area athletes playing collegiately to Mike Miazga at firstname.lastname@example.org.