Once-scared jumper has smooth landing
By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
LECANTO -- Shawn Allen's coach turned to him at a meet in 2000 and said, "Hey, go high jump, you're slender."
He never had jumped before.
On Allen's first attempt, he cleared 5 feet, 2 inches with relative ease. After a few misses, he leaped 5-8 to finish sixth.
"I was scared out of my mind," Allen said.
Two months later, he reached 6-4 to place second at state, a feat Allen matched in 2001.
This spring, the Seven Rivers Christian senior became the first state champion in school history, winning the Class A high jump title. The following week, Allen became the Warriors' first NCAA Division I recruit when he signed a letter of intent with Florida State. He chose the Seminoles over Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
"At first, I just thought it was another event to do and get points," Allen said.
Most of Allen's coaching came from books. A coaches manual taught him the finer points of the Fosbury Flop, the technique most jumpers use.
From that publication, he learned how to measure his steps using the Pythagorean theorem. A physics teacher at Seven Rivers Christian helped Allen locate his center of gravity during jumps. He later attended camp at FSU.
A two-time regional champ, the 6-foot-3, 170-pound Allen turned in a career-best performance of 6-11 midway through his senior season. Within days, he received phone calls from several college programs. In the state meet in Coral Springs, Allen defeated Plantation American Heritage's Rashawn Rembert in a jump-off after both cleared 6-6.
"Everything paid off," Allen said. "It was all the result of hard work. Now, I'm enjoying my title."
The championship medal hangs in his bedroom, next to the two runner-up medals.
"That's the centerpiece," he said.
Allen will begin classes at FSU in August. His father and brother played golf for the Seminoles, and Allen is a lifelong fan.
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