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Believe the hype: Kerry Allen is fast

The St. Petersburg freshman has won five of six meets in the county this season.

By LAURA LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 13, 2002


The St. Petersburg freshman has won five of six meets in the county this season.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Katie Galloway heard the rumors last year.

There was this middle-schooler thinking about coming to St. Petersburg High who was amazing. Hadn't lost a race.

Galloway, a sophomore and the fastest girl on last year's team, had to see it to believe it. During the first few days of practice this year, this "amazing" runner didn't show her potential. Then, freshman Kerry Allen, who had been pacing herself with Galloway, "Just blew up," Galloway said. "Then I knew."

Allen, 14, was the one she had been told about.

"I guess I might have been holding back," Allen said. "I don't know how I could tell what my best would be."

Proving to be one of the fastest runners in the county, Allen went out for cross country simply hoping to be in the top 10 on her team. On Tuesday, she recorded the county's second-fastest time this season, 19 minutes, 53 seconds, to win the Largo Invitational.

"I just have a desire to win," Allen said in a soft but convincing voice.

She remembers her first race when she was behind Galloway and a runner from another school.

"I passed Katie and I guess I thought, "What the heck? I might as well go for it,"' Allen said.

Allen has won five of her six county races and finished second in the other.

"You can tell by watching her run that she has excellent mechanics, excellent form," Green Devils coach Robb Townsend said. "She's just real strong. She hasn't gotten the least big head from all of the wins."

It has all been a little surprising for Allen, who grew up playing soccer and has been competing on a club soccer team for about five years. Aside from running the mile at John Hopkins Middle School, her only experience in distance running was the annual Times Turkey Trot, a 5K race she completed in about 23 minutes.

This year, her first time was 20:52 and she keeps getting faster.

"It seems like she doesn't work all that hard at it," said her mother, Sue Allen. "After she runs, she gets a drink, walks around a little bit and looks like she can do it again."

Allen, who doesn't set goals for herself, has learned about pacing, stretching and nutrition in her first season. Townsend wants her to enjoy her first year because there is plenty of time for realizing personal challenges. Although their paths might not cross this season, Allen is looking forward to running against Indian Rocks Christian's Melissa Kotchman, the fastest runner in the county.

"I have to be pushed by somebody in a race," Allen said. "You can always run faster if you try hard enough."

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