Devon Allen knows how to break records, but can he make them?
Sprints, hurdles and deep routes are his future, but the 2011-2012 Tribune Male Athlete of the Year also might have found a couple ways into his friends’ and females’ hearts.
Already a culinary dabbler — hamburgers, pasta, shrimp, grilling and sautéing — the 17-year-old has taken a shining to the piano in the past year.
On the encouragement of former football teammate Josh Dennard, Allen took the one-credit class last spring at Brophy. Once a saxophone player as a youth, he’s now hunkered in with a keyboard at home, reading notes and learning scales for piano.
Sightreading is too difficult for now, but the senior-to-be has built an all-over-the-map playlist by learning to read notes and YouTube clips: the theme from “Aladdin,” “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” the White Chicks’ “A thousand miles”, “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night” and even some Outkast.
“I don’t think I’m good enough writing music any time soon,” he said. “I like playing other music that already sounds cool.”
Until recently, how Allen had time for all this is a bit of a mystery.
The double-dipping athletic stud caught 900 yards worth of passes and 14 touchdowns, recently set two new state records in both hurdles and is No. 10 in the country in the 200-meter.
Since he helped the football team reach the Division I state quarterfinals, he’s traversed the country (and the Caribbean) being a nationally-elite high school trackster at elite meets.
He began track season by breaking the state record in the 110 hurdles at 13.62 seconds at the Chandler Rotary on March 24. Two weeks later at the Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational, Allen was the MVP of the two-day meet. He lowered his state-record time in the high hurdles to 13.52 seconds, then shattered the old 300-meter hurdle state record of 37.01 by running a time of 36.39. Then he pulled off his biggest surprise of the night and won the 200 meters in 21.10.
The 110-meter high hurdles (13.52 seconds) and the 300-meter hurdles (36.36) records both are Allen’s as he won state titles with those times. He also ran the 200-meter race in 20.75 seconds.
Encouraged by Brophy track coaches to try hurdles 18 months ago, his rise has been meteoric.
“The perfectionist part in me, that’s why I got so good at hurdles,” he said.
Football came first at age 6, but when he was at the Boys and Girls club one day in fifth grade, his extreme speed playing kickball in the gym was noticed, and he was encouraged to run track.
It didn’t last long initially. He’s estimated to have battled pneumonia four times, and suffered from Severs disease in fifth and sixth grades, in which active, growing kids suffer from inflammation of growth plates inside the heel bones. The still-developing foot and leg bones haven’t yet fully fused together and the bone conflicts are painful.
It cost Allen a year’s worth of running and track, but by junior high the bones had fused themselves together as normal, and he was off and running.
By the end of his freshman year, classmates stopped challenging him (seriously or jokingly) to races. While Allen jokes Brophy wide receivers coach Will Sullivan refuses to believe he can be beaten, he’s firm in his stance that his coach hasn’t been able to overthrow him in practices.
This weekend began some much coveted time off (except for lifting weights) until formal football practices begin.
Of course, he’s already got a visit to Stanford booked, and possibly California since he’ll be in the area. With family in Ohio, there’s also a possibility of stops at Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame.
He’s already watched some of the summer’s Olympic trials on TV and online, but he believes, these might soon be replaced by watching himself in replays.
“I look at some of those guys running those times and they were slower or barely faster than I was at that age,” he said. “I feel I could get close to that by age 18 or 19. I don’t see why not.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.