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March 19, 2014

Berkley track athlete signs letter with D-I program

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Berkley track athlete signs letter with D-I program
Berkley High track and field athlete Shelby Allen is pictured on the day she signed a National Letter of Intent with Illinois State University. Allen said she “couldn’t speak” after learning she had been accepted into Illinois State.

BERKLEY — When she was in between her freshman and sophomore years, Berkley High’s Shelby Allen decided that she wanted to focus on just one sport.

It was a decision between gymnastics, a sport in which she said she went to world championships and began participating in around the age of 2, and track and field, which she took up in seventh grade.

While decisions like that can be agonizing, Allen, who is now a senior, looks back confidently on the decision she made to choose track and field, as it is the sport responsible for the Letter of Intent she signed with Illinois State University.

Allen recalled her reaction when she heard the news that she was going to have the chance to be part of a college track and field program.

“I couldn’t speak,” she said. “My jaw just dropped. I was so in shock and happy about it. I’m ready to pack up and leave, and start my college career.”

Allen’s accomplishments include numerous state championships for indoor and outdoor club teams in the long jump and triple jump. She is also the indoor  club state record-holder in the triple jump.

At the high school level, Allen has been All-State, All-Regional, All-County, and All-League. She has also been selected as the team MVP all three years she has been on the team and broke two school records.

Achievements such as those can make it easy to understand why Illinois State offered her the opportunity to be part of its track and field program, and Allen provided some thoughts as to what the keys have been to receiving that chance.

“Working hard and staying determined to get to your goal,” said Allen, who cited support she has received from her family and coaches. “My club coach (Shelby Johnson) actually taught me this: He’s like, ‘you have to set a goal for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big goal, but something you can attain with hard work.’ I’ve really taken that into my life now — just setting goals. Setting a goal that you can reach with hard work, and be determined to reach that goal.”

As lofty of an achievement as earning the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Division I level is, Allen has even higher aspirations for the future.

“I want to go to the Olympics for Canada,” she said. “My mom is Canadian, so I have my Canadian citizenship through her. Or, the U.S., whichever one gets me there. I looked up what you need to get there, and I’m not far behind. I think I could get there, but who knows. But that’s my end goal. If I was able to go there and represent whichever country — even to step foot on the field — I would probably cry. It would be such a big accomplishment for me.”

Allen’s academic achievements include being a member of the National Honor Society, carrying a 3.9 grade point average, and being a part of the honor roll all three years at Berkley.

Allen plans to major in actuarial science at Illinois State.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.