Devon Allen spoke calmly of things that would sound ridiculous coming out of the mouth of anyone else.
He spoke of reaching greatness like he would of, say, going out to dinner, because he sounds comfortable with putting those expectations on himself.
Never in the conversation was there any doubt that he can reach his goals because there is ample evidence that he will.
“My goal is to just keep working,” he said. “The plan for next year is to break the state record in the 100 (-meter) and 200, and go for some national records in the 110’s (hurdles).”
No one can deny that Allen is in a class by himself as a hurdler. The Brophy junior set new Arizona state records in both the 110-meter high hurdles (13.52 seconds) and the 300-meter hurdles (36.36), winning state titles in both events. He also ran the 11th fastest 200-meter time in the nation this year in 20.75 seconds. For his efforts, Allen is the Tribune’s boys track athlete of the year.
“Heading into the year, I just wanted to do better,” he said. “I knew I would definitely be faster, but I kept working on the technique in the hurdles and all of that came easily this year. It was a fun year, exciting.”
Allen’s excitement for the year isn’t over yet. On June 2, Allen was in Carolina, Puerto Rico, at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational where he ran two lightning-fast 110-meter hurdle times (though both were wind-aided). He ran 13.36 in the preliminaries and 13.41 in the finals. As his times in the 110 hurdles continue to drop, it’s easy to imagine Allen challenging national marks.
The first goal for Allen is the National Federation of High Schools record of 13.30, which stands as the regular-season national record. The fastest time ever run by a prep athlete is 13.08, which was run by Raleigh, North Carolina’s Wayne Davis. He set the mark in 2009 running at the Pan American Junior Championships in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
“If I can get that, then the magic barrier is that 12.99 mark,” said Allen, who is ranked No. 3 in the world for high school hurdlers. “That would be something special.”
Allen’s season will continue at the USA Junior Championships on June 15-17 in Bloomington, Ind. That meet serves as a qualifier for the IAAF World Junior Championships, which will be held July 10-15 in Barcelona, Spain.
All of the track success has cut into the amount of time Allen can devote to football, where he is a Division-I caliber wide receiver.
“I was supposed to start football (this week), but I don’t want to do too much, so I get burnt out,” Allen said. “If I knew, 100-percent, that I wasn’t going to get hurt, I’d do football. But, for now, I’m just doing track.”
Allen’s season got off to a flying start when he broke the state record in the 110 hurdles early in the season, running 13.62 at the Chandler Rotary on March 24. Two weeks later at the Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational, Allen had one of the best individual performances in any meet all season.
In the Saturday portion of the two-day meet, Allen lowered his state-record time in the high hurdles to 13.52 and 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, winning the 200 meters in 21.10. He also ran a leg on the Broncos’ victorious 4x100-meter relay, as well as the shuttle hurdle relay the day before.
“I knew I could run some fast times because of the competition over there,” Allen said of his big day at Arcadia. “I knew I could run faster in the 300’s and that time in the 200 was just icing on the cake.”