Full Speed Ahead

Dec. 15, 2011

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Aurieyall Scott has been running races the same way since the day her basketball teammates coaxed her out on to the track her freshman year of high school. She throws on her spikes, steadies herself on the blocks and just goes.

The method seems to work for her. Last season, she became UCF's first two-time outdoor track and field All American. But it is the moments leading up to her events that seem to be where the races are won.

Scott, who grew up in the church and still plays the trombone or trumpet at services when she visits her hometown, returns to her roots in those quiet minutes before she steps to the starting line. She says a prayer. She sings one of her grandmother's favorite gospel songs, "Lord, Hold My Hand While I Run This Race." And then she says six words.

"I'm about to win this race."

Last season, Scott won 16 races between the 60-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter events in the indoor and outdoor seasons. She was also a part of UCF's Conference USA champion 4x100 meter relay team. She broke school records and set personal bests in both the 100m (11.12) and 200m (22.83) at the USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 24 for first-place finishes, which earned her a spot on Team USA at the 2011 Pan American Junior Championships.

On paper, her season seems remarkable for a freshman, but it is even more impressive when you take into consideration that Scott was only able to train at 70 percent due to hamstring weaknesses and leg injuries that carried over from her senior year of high school. It is that perseverance that stands out as one of her best attributes as a runner.

"She has the ability to break through boundaries," Head Coach Caryl Smith Gilbert said. "Aurieyall gives you 100 percent in every race, no matter what race it is. She is relentless."

When Scott was a child, she used to best the boys in neighborhood races on the streets in Savannah. She knew she was fast, but she didn't know she was fast enough to run at the collegiate level.

Her family moved from Savannah to Maryland in October of her junior year of high school when her mother accepted a job. At the time, Scott considered staying behind in Savannah. Luckily for UCF, she decided to make the move.

Smith Gilbert had been recruiting Afia Charles from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md. When she attended the Florida Relays in spring 2008, Smith Gilbert was checking in on Charles' performance in the first leg of the 4x100 meter relay. Then she witnessed the second leg.

"I said, `Who is that?!'" Smith Gilbert said, referring to Scott. "When I saw that race, I just saw how she ran and I knew she was really good. I wanted her from that point."

Scott wasn't sure what to expect during her first year at UCF. A lot of people told her that when she went off to college, she wouldn't win every race like she was accustomed to in high school. She tried not to overthink things.

"I thought, well whatever happens, happens. I'm going to go out there and practice really hard and run fast," Scott said. "So I came to practice, practiced really hard, and ran hard in the meets and everything just fell into place."

Everything fell into place in the classroom, as well. Scott, a self-proclaimed mediocre high school student, was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic team after committing herself to her studies.

"I'm going to try to go for another 4.0 next semester," said Scott, who is considering a major in digital media. "I'm a big fan of electronics. I always loved computers. I used to take apart toy cars and put them back together."

Scott has lofty goals for her sophomore season. She intends to make it to nationals once again and win it all this time. She aspires to make Team USA and travel overseas for the first time in her life. Whatever happens, the Knights know they can count on Scott every time she competes.

"We're glad to have Aurieyall Scott on this team because of her personality and how she sacrifices herself on the track for the team," Smith Gilbert said. "The best thing about her is she's always humble after she runs fast. To her competitors, she treats people with respect. She doesn't get jealous of other people when they run fast. She always just tries to excel herself and step up and do whatever she can do on the track."