From last place to All-American, senior thrower Dayana Octavien says she has a passion for her sport, a passion that may carry her all the way to the Olympics.
Last year at the outdoor NCAA championships, Octavien was not true to form after qualifying for both the discus and the hammer throw. After fouling out of the discus, Octavien fouled twice in the hammer throw before a legal mark placed her dead last.
This year however, Octavien turned things around at her second national appearance. The thrower, who is out of Naples, placed seventh in the weight throw earning All-American honors with a mark of 69-7.
“I was pretty confident that I was going to do well,” Octavien said. “The difference between this year and last year was my confidence.”
Octavien also said obtaining a decisive automatic bid only helped her confidence as opposed to last year. When she automatically qualified in the discus but was unsure of her fate in the hammer throw.
“I was four or five feet over the automatic, so it definitely helped me out a lot,” Octavien said. “I wasn’t on the bubble. It’s a lot scarier when you are on the bubble.”
After a huge throw at the Conference USA tournament, Octavien had no reason to fear not getting into nationals. The reason she had such a good throw that day, she said, was because she could be aggressive after her first throw of the day.
“On the first throw I won it,” Octavien said. “I knew I had it, it was like a five foot difference between myself and the runner up. It was basically go in there, get one throw in and now I could get after it, be aggressive.”
Nerves were not a factor for Octavien, who said she has matured as an athlete and is much more comfortable in events than ever before.
“Once you can get them where they are doing something consistently, then the confidence is there, and the nerves go away,” coach Greg Thiel said. “That’s what happened at nationals, she had four of her best throws ever.”
Octavien was only involved in track the last two years of high school, but she has made waves in her sport since the beginning. In her junior year of high school, her first year of competition, she immediately broke school records. With only one season of competition under her belt, Octavien became a state champion in the shot put and the discus before coming to USF.
“I broke (a) school record my first year, my junior year, and stuck with it,” Octavien said. “I developed a quote-unquote passion for it.”
On her arrival at USF, Octavien immediately made an impact, breaking the school record in the hammer throw her freshman year. Her sophomore year she improved further, breaking the record in the discus and the indoor weight throw and being named all-conference in more than one event for the second consecutive year. Her junior year saw her take first in the weight throw at the C-USA championships as well as being named C-USA player of the year, an honor bestowed on her again this season.
As for the outdoor season, Octavien has set lofty goals for her self, including placing in the top three for the discus. And this time around she is anxiously awaiting the national championships.
“I want to go (to nationals) in all three events,” Octavien said. “Discus, shot and hammer for the outdoor season, I would love to go.”
As for post-college hopes, Octavien will compete in Olympic Trials after nationals take place. Octavien went last year, but said that she performed poorly.
“The Olympic Trial standards are really high, but I think she can do it in the hammer,” Thiel said. “I think she will have more confidence (this year), but that’s another form and another step up.”
Friday will be the first outdoor meet for Octavien this season, and Thiel said he isn’t expecting much from her except to get back into the swing of things.
“What we’re looking for her this weekend is to just get used to outdoors,” Thiel said. “She was just indoors last week, so that first meet is going to be an adjustment for her.”