LONGMONT -- As she had at every meet this season, Silver Creek's Valarie Allman drew a crowd to the 4A discus at this year's rainy state championship meet. The sun, even, came out to see if she would finally break the all-classification record.
On her final throw, the Raptors junior heaved the discus 164 feet. The toss flew well past the 18-year-old Colorado state record of 160 feet, 1 inch.
"Being able to do it on my last throw definitely made it more dramatic," Allman said. "It was kind of like the come-all, see-all moment of the last chance. That made it a lot more special. I was just so thankful for everything I'd been through this season and it just all came together at that moment."
For her effort this season, Allman has been named the BoCoPreps.com Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Allman, who also took eighth in the shot put, said she couldn't have shattered the record all on her own. Three individuals she met this season made a profound impact on her.
The first was Vicky Powell, the former Centaurus thrower who held the previous record at the Boulder County Invitational. Allman broke the record, which had stood since the meet's inaugural season in 1977.
"It's an honor to be able to share that with her," Allman said.
Allman's second influence was Shelly Greathouse, who established the all-classification record at 160-1 in 1994.
"She just was so supportive and encouraging of throwing," Allman said. "She just really inspired me to want to continue to do it at the collegiate level. She just offered me advice on how to think of it as a progression instead of just focusing on distances. She also offered some insight on the thinking about the big picture and the recruiting process."
The third was Sarah Stephens-Walker, who was the 5A state record holder and a 13-time All-American at Arizona State University. They met while at a meet in Arizona over spring break. Stephens-Walker was coaching a team and approached Allman.
"She came up to me and was like, 'Are you the girl from Colorado?'" Allman said. "She really took the time to go over her experiences and I was really able to relate to her."
Everywhere she went, everyone seemed obsessed with her potential for record-breaking. But not Allman.
This season, Allman turned her focus away from the record books and toward challenging herself to improve. Accomplishing small goals was most important in her mind and she would enter each meet with specific things to work on in order to get better.
Throwing coach Brian Gunnarson had a lot to due with Allman's focus on a progression toward the big picture.
"The big thing to her credit is that I set up a progression for her," Gunnarson said. "The stuff that she did this year was right in keeping with that progression. Really, we weren't going after marks. We were going after getting better."
Allman's marks were consistent throughout her junior season. Gunnarson said her immense kinesthetic awareness makes it easier for her to work on her mechanics.
Upon breaking the record at state, Allman uncharacteristically displayed her emotions during competition. Gunnarson said it was something that is often discouraged during the complex event. But that day, he was happy to see it.
"All she's been hearing for the last six weeks, meet announcers would announce it," Gunnarson said. "When people you don't know are saying your name and talking about you, it's difficult. It's all people would talk about.
"Part of her felt like she was letting people down for not getting it. Part of the emotion was her being able to say, 'Now I've done this. Now I can get back to just throwing.'"
While she can return to a greater level of enjoyment while throwing now, Allman will continue to work this summer and compete in top national events. She said she's hoping to gain some consistency in the 160-foot range and her next goal is to break into the 170s.
Though she said the gravity of what she's accomplished still hasn't sunk in, she hopes to break her own record as a senior.
"It's definitely something that I don't take lightly," Allman said. "I've now come to appreciate all the hard work and determination that it takes to be able to achieve something like that. There's no way I would have been able to do that on my own without the support of the coaches we have here at Silver Creek."
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