The Kingsway track and field program has a long history of producing champions at a state and national level. From athletes like Chelsea Ley, Denise Liles, and Ozzie Huerta, Dragons have made a huge impact on a national stage and have won national titles.
Well, one more Dragon added his name to the list, and he has become a pioneer of sorts along the way. Sam Allen, a distance runner for the track program, picked up racewalking his sophomore year, and he quickly showed an affinity for the discipline.
At the winter track national championships that year, he was in contention for a top-6 finish and All-American spot in the 1-Mile Racewalk before being disqualified on the last lap. Later that year, he finished fifth in the 3000-meter Racewalk at the spring track national championships, garnering his first All-American selection.
This past winter, after stepping up his racewalking training, he finished second to Sean Glaze, the defending national champion, in the 1-Mile Racewalk at the winter track national championships by 2-hundredths of a second, earning his second All-American recognition.
This set the stage for a spring track season for the ages.
First, he won the Penn Relays junior 5000-meter race. This performance qualified him for the US Junior National Championships as well as the U.S. Senior National Championships.
This time, at the spring track national championships at North Carolina A&T University, Allen finally snagged that illusive national championship. He defeated Sean Glaze, the defending champion, in the 3000-meter Racewalk and walked the nineteenth fastest time in U.S. high school history. This was his third All-American selection.
The following week, he participated in the U.S. Junior National Championships in Miramar, Florida. In hot, humid conditions, he raced the 10,000-meter Racewalk against the best under-20 athletes in the country. He finished second to Jordan Crawford, the best COLLEGIATE racewalker in the United States. His top-2 finish qualified him for the Pan-American Games in San Jose, Costa Rica.
On July 21, Allen competed at the Pan-American Games in the 10,000-meter race. He finished in ninth place and defeated Crawford by over a minute. A week later, Allen competed at the U.S. Senior National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa in the 10,000-meter Racewalk…against the professionals.
He finished in sixth place. For more perspective, his top-6 national finish earned him a four-figure prize. Of course, as a high school athlete with amateur status, he was unable to accept the money.
On Aug. 17, Allen and three of the top United States under-20 racewalkers took part in the Can-American Match Race in Philadelphia. This 10,000-meter race pits the best from the United States against the best from Canada. Allen helped lead the United States men to a close win over the Canadians; this was the first U.S. win in three years.
He ended this spring season as the fastest male racewalker in the United States in the 3000-meter, 5000-meter, and 10,000-meter walks.
Not surprisingly, just as this article went to print, Allen was named as the Bruce McDonald National High School Racewalker of the Year. MacDonald was a five-time Olympian (three times as an athlete and two times as a coach) who is given credit for introducing racewalking to high school athletics.
Allen is the first male athlete from New Jersey to earn this distinction since Zach Pollinger of Mahwah won the award in 2004.
As Allen was a junior this past school year, he has a chance to join Pollinger as a two-time recipient of this award. Needless to say, there will be huge expectations for him this upcoming year, as he already has been invited to compete with a US national squad in Europe later in the school year.
Simply put, Allen appears to be the future of United States racewalking on the men’s side.
So, what did you do this summer?
By Christian Lynch