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Cedar Key School may not have a softball team, a football team or a track within nine miles of the island. But it has something no other county track and field team can boast.
Cedar Key’s Brooke Allen was the only Levy County representative at the 2012 state track and field meet. While competeting at the championships, she left her mark in Jacksonville. Allen finished in 10th out of all high jumpers in the state. Her jump of 5’2” was only six inches away from first place.
And she’s only a sophomore.
On top of that, Allen is a multi-sport athlete and an ‘A’ student.
“Her most enduring quality is that she’s here everyday,” said CKS’s Brad Penny.
Her other greatest asset may be her future. With two years left in school, Allen has her eyes set on a top GPA and a high school state championship.
Brooke, first of all, congratulations on your accomplishments. You come from an athletic family (both parents played varsity sports at Cedar Key School) with a great sports background. What attracted you to high jump?
“I didn’t do track through middle school but I went to one track meet and I watched high jump and thinking “that looks really complicated. I’ll probably never do that’. On my first day of track practice of ninth grade, coach Penny told me I should come out and try it… We had a couple of seniors that year that helped throughout the practice. My first jump I did I make it over the bar and I thought ‘well, maybe I actually have a chance in this’. And I just kept trying it and worked on the form and stuck with it.”
I guess that it also helped that you were pretty good at it right away
What were your thoughts at the state championship meet?
“I just wanted to try and not let the atmosphere get to me. The crowd, I’m not sure if it’s because it’s so much bigger than at normal meets, but it’s all in one place in the bleachers and it makes it look like it’s a lot more people. Also, knowing that the girls around me, because the competition isn’t as hard in normal meets where there are only one or two people you have to worry about, you had to worry about every one of them. They’re all good.”
Did you have nerves and butterflies in your stomach early on or where you excited and able to focus on the jump?
“I wasn’t really nervous because I’ve done FFA and other stuff so it taught me to control the nerves. I was focused, but I was wary of the other girls and talent around me”
You finished in 10th place this year at states, what were your emotions afterward?
“I definitely thought I could have done better. I was kind of disappointed actually. I wanted to at least medal. The worst part is that, since you get three chances at each height, if you don’t make it on the first jump but you make it on your second, it counts against you. If I had made it on one of my first jumps I would have gotten seventh. It’s motivated me for the future.”
What do you enjoy most about the high jump?
“I like that people talk about it when I do it. I like being good at it (laughs).”
What has made you successful?
“It’s been pretty natural to me. I’ve worked hard, but I’ve never gone to a major camp over the summer, though I plan to do that this year. I plan to go to track camp at FSU. I plan to pull a lot of work and natural (talent) together.”
What are you most looking to improve on?
“Probably leg strength. We have a mini-gym (at CKS) and a friend of mine has a gym so I’m working on strength.”
What’s the biggest challenge to high jump?
“Making sure you do the same thing for every jump every time, starting from the same spot, no matter if it’s hot or windy or cold and doing it consistently.”
What did you do for your first jump?
“I just tried to copy what everyone else was doing. I also tried to listen to what everyone was saying, though they were all saying different things. I just tried to run in a similar manner.”
What else are you involved in (beside track and FFA)?
“Also basketball, cross country, volleyball and softball – back when we had a team”
Is it sometimes overwhelming with everything you do?
“Yes, with the different sports, when they stack on top of each other, like volleyball and cross country in the fall and track and softball in the spring.”
On top of that, you’re a very high achieving student. Does that get difficult?
“I try to keep it balanced. Practice for track isn’t till later in the afternoon, so I’ll try to get my homework done before that. It’s hard, but it’s not impossibly hard.”
Where do you think you can be by your senior year?
“Ideally I’d like to be winning state. I’d like to jump 5’10. I think it’s really possible.”