Allen’s Strength Extends Far Beyond Running

Allen crosses the finish line victorious.
Allen crosses the finish line victorious.
Andrew Mills | NJ Advance Media for

Christina Allen, a Senior from River Dell High School, committed to the University of Cincinnati for Track and Cross Country this October 2023.

Remaining undeterred by countless roadblocks along the way, Christina has had many successes throughout her career and is now River Dell’s most accomplished high-school runner.

At the state sectional race just this past weekend, Christina, only feet away from the finish line, had virtually been defeated. There was no way she could win.  She was trailing by too great a distance.

Suddenly, “…she tracked a kid down from 10 seconds behind, up a huge hill, and dominated. She just ran past her like she was nothing,” Coach Urso explained.  “Her competitiveness is incredible, and she’s got an engine that doesn’t stop.”

Following nearly four years of successes, including two state group titles and four state sectional titles, Christina was accepted to the University of Cincinnati where she plans to continue her running career. “I’m excited to be in a different environment and be independent,” she told me. She also articulated that she finalized her decision to commit to the school because it is so large with plenty of fun groups and activities, the athlete facilities are terrific, and she received the most money to attend.

For Christina, practicing and bonding with her team is her favorite aspect of running. She thrives as a member of the track team. Her coach, Coach Urso noted that Christina always is, “…willing to sacrifice herself and participate in as many events as possible to help the team achieve their goal.” Christina added that, “…it’s rewarding to be able to [the] help team.”

Despite her admirable attitude and her outstanding achievements, Christina has encountered many obstacles throughout her time running at River Dell. For instance, during her junior year (2022-2023), she struggled with a loss of enthusiasm for her sport. She felt defeated and she wasn’t satisfied with her times. Christina admitted, “I was doing horribly which made me not want to run anymore.”

I spoke with Coach Urso about her struggle with lagging motivation. He explained that most high school athletes experience a progression in their skills and achievements over their four years, so there’s always another goal to work towards. However, Christina reached this pinnacle in her freshman year, which poses the question “Where does one go from there?” As Coach Urso continued, “It’s almost impossible to maintain a level of success that she achieved for a 4-year period in 3 different disciplines: cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track…”

Christina overcame this setback by changing her outlook on the sport by focusing on the positive sides. Coach Urso declared that “It’s remarkable how she has been able to redefine herself and find that motivation again and again.”

Allen has recently committed to run for the University of Cincinnati. (Courtesy of Instagram)

When I asked her to share some of the most valuable lessons she had learned as an athlete, she answered, “Your sport doesn’t define you. You’re so much more than just your sport and you have other things in life going for you.”

Christina has worked incredibly hard towards not only her victorious titles, but also towards attaining a scholarship and committing to the University of Cincinnati. She will always maintain that “If you do bad, it’s not the end of the world. You still have other achievements, and everyone has bad days.”

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