High School Sports

Dunbar’s Will Allen has record-setting day in Class 3A Track and Field championships

Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Will Allen ran away with a big victory in the 400-meter dash. He also broke Olympian Tyson Gay’s 100-meter record during the Class 3A state track meet on Saturday in Lexington.
Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Will Allen ran away with a big victory in the 400-meter dash. He also broke Olympian Tyson Gay’s 100-meter record during the Class 3A state track meet on Saturday in Lexington. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

You’re probably doing something right when your name is being spoken in the same breath as Lexington-born Olympian Tyson Gay.

Will Allen did something right, all right: the Paul Laurence Dunbar senior broke the former Lafayette star’s 15-year-old overall state record in the 100-meter dash, eclipsing it by 0.04 seconds with a 10.42 finish Saturday during the Republic Bank/KHSAA Class 3A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Kentucky’s Outdoor Complex.

That performance was the first of three individual wins for the University of Alabama signee. He also won the 200 and 400, helping Dunbar finish second overall in the boys’ team standings behind back-to-back winner Henry Clay. Dunbar had 61 points to the Blue Devils’ 65.

Male dominated for the girls with 94 points; next closest was North Hardin with 60.

Allen entered as the second seed behind North Hardin’s Kasaun James in the 100, whom he defeated in all three of the events (Allen was favored in the other two). His record outing surprised him — and others who doubted him.

“I was getting some smack talk earlier before the race, talking about ‘That’s not your race,’ and such and such,” Allen said. “I know it’s not, but that motivated me to run faster.”

In all honesty, Allen said, he was kind of doubting himself. He credited Dunbar Coach Jean Balan, who ran collegiately at UK, for helping him push past that uncertainty in his mind.

His record effort was his first event of the day. Allen was a bit disappointed with how his 400 went; his 47.39 was 0.30 slower than his meet record performance a year ago and 0.35 slower than his seed time coming in.

“I was looking to break that one,” Allen said. “But I’m happy at the same time.”

Henry Clay’s surprise repeat

Coach Demetrius Gay didn’t think winning the boys’ title this year was better than claiming the crown last season — after all, last year’s win was Blue Devils’ first — but he did call it a surprise.

“Given all the guys that I lost (to graduation), then losing Davonte (Robinson) this year, who was our stud sprinter coming into the season, it’s a great feeling,” Gay said.

Robinson missed much of the track season rehabbing a leg injury. He’s signed to play cornerback at the University of Kentucky.

A big chunk of Henry Clay’s success came via Jaron Brooks, an Auburn signee who swept the high, long and triple jumps for the Blue Devils.

“He scored 30 points,” Gay said. “That helps out a lot.”

Wins in the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 were also pivotal. Freshmen Langston Jackson and Ramond Jackson came up huge in the final legs of both events. Gay knew what kind of contributor Langston could be this season after watching him run in middle school. Ramond was found money.

“Ramond’s just been a surprise,” Gay said. “He’s came out and worked hard. The future’s kind of bright for us.”

Another record day on the pole vault

Henderson County’s Jaci Bickett and Lafayette’s Kristina Leggas got into a tussle for the Class 3A girls’ pole vault title. Both cleared 12-6 — breaking the state record set by Lexington Catholic’s Camille Mangold on Friday — but Bickett came away with the first-place medal because she cleared her opening height and Leggas failed to do so.

Bickett, a sophomore, finished second to Leggas, a junior, last season. Leggas said her goal isn’t to go into a meet and necessarily win, but to jump as high as she possibly can. Her 12-6 on Saturday was a new personal best.

“I definitely see some bigger bars in the future,” Leggas said. “I’m excited. I PR’d, that’s all I can ask for.”

She and Bickett each attempted to clear 13 feet but hit the bar on their three attempts. Leggas said it was the first time she’d ever tried to go that high.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking to go when you’re already at a PR and you try to go up to another PR when you’re at a state meet,” Leggas said.

Landon Young’s last go-around

Saturday was the final high school competition for Lafayette star Landon Young, who has signed to play football at UK. It started off a bit sour — for the first time this season, Scott County freshman Bryan Hudson finally overcame Young to win a shot put title — but ended on a high note as the UK-bound athlete claimed his third straight discus title.

“I’d much rather win one, then go to the other one and lose that one cause it feels weird (the other way around),” Young said. “You wanna be so pumped up and you wanna be so fired up to go win that other event, but you still remember, ‘Man, I just lost that other one. What if I mess up like I did this? What if I do this like I did in there?’ All those things run through your head and it just makes you worry.”

Young earned five-star status as a recruit soon after his effort in the U.S. Army All-American game in January. In addition to helping Lafayette reach its first football title game since 1985 earlier this season, in February he won a state wrestling title he’d sought for so long. Wrestling and track and field had as much to do with his football skill as anything, he said.

His advice to other high school athletes?

“Do everything you can in high school. Don’t take anything for granted,” Young said. “When you have options to do more than one sport, do ’em. Don’t let one coach pigeon-hole you to a sport. Do all you can, stay busy, stay out of trouble on the streets and just enjoy high school.”

Young had one more thing to add.

“Watch out for the Cats, ’cause we’ll be coming up soon.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps