It was a warm day outside and unknown to him, the temperature was heating up in Justin Allone’s body.
The Sachem East cross country runner thought he was experiencing a bad allergy day, but he was actually in the beginnings of a cold last Saturday when racing at the Suffolk Coaches Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park. It didn’t show, however, as he won the 5,000-meter race in 17:29.04 to be named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
But for him, dealing with the heat was more of a nuisance than a cold that would force him to miss some school after the race.
“I’d say it’s a decent factor,” Allone said. “I felt pretty good throughout the race. It didn’t really bog me down. We’re used to training in the heat.”
Allone said he felt confident entering the race and stayed with the front of the pack until pulling away at Cardiac Hill and holding the lead for about the final 1,000 meters.
“A lot of adrenaline,” Allone said. “I felt great going down the hill and I could see that [the leader] was fatigued, so I felt it was an easy way to pass during that time and then after that, I kind of just went off and just paced out and trotted my way to the finish.”
Coach Sean Cully said he’s seen improvement in Allone as a leader and in his performance. Cully complimented Allone’s focus and prerace routine along with the ability to perform in key races like last Saturday.
“He seems that he can handle that pressure a little bit better this year as opposed to years before,” Cully said. “He’s focused on staying with that top group, he’s not letting them get away. He’s believing in himself the way he should be.”
Allone also had a good showing at the Suffern Invitational at Bear Mountain Sept. 16, placing third in the 3-mile race in 16:04.00.
Besides his strong performances, even just Allone’s presence during races often captivates his Sachem East teammates, Cully said. “A lot of our freshmen and sophomores that aren’t participating in the varsity race, they look for him and you can tell that they just feel excited watching him running,” Cully said. “And I think that adds more fuel to the fire to get him going in a race.”
Allone’s goals for this season consist around a trip to the state championships at Wayne Central School in Ontario, Nov. 11. His strong start to the year has helped him prepare for that opportunity.
“It’s a great confidence booster,” he said. “I feel a lot better in my position knowing that I got first in that race. I kind of know where I stand in Suffolk County and it feels good.”