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Oakton senior finishes career by winning 1,600-meter state title

Junior Allen will next run in college at the U.S. Air Force Academy
Oakton's Junior Allen holds his state-championship medal with head coach Marlo Mullen to his left.

He did it, and coming in his final high-school race. Junior Allen achieved his goal by winning a much-wanted Virginia state championship.

The Oakton High School senior did so by  finishing first in the boys 1,600-meter event during the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 outdoor boys state track and field championship meet in Newport News. His time was 4:14.74.

The individual VHSL state title was the first for Allen in any season, capping a standout senior campaign beginning in the fall when he won district and region cross country titles and finished third in the state.

Allen also had many other top finishes in races in his two-year running career at Oakton, a second in the 3,200 (9:05.75) at that outdoor state meet in Newport News. He also was second in the state indoor season in the 3,200, ninth in the 1,600 and won the 800 at this spring’s 6D North Region championships.

Allen had wanted to win other state titles, like the 2023 cross country title or the 3,200 at the recent outdoor state meet. After finishing second in the 3,200, that motivated him to win the later 1,600.

Oakton coach Marlo Mullen said Allen quickly shook off the disappointment of not winning the 3,200.

“Junior really wanted the 3,200, but we didn’t expect him to win the [1,600] as much. But he had an awesome race,” Mullen said. “He wanted it bad and went all out.”

After the 3,200, four hours later in the 1,600, Allen settled in the back of the pack once the race was started a third time because of technical timing issues on the first two attempts. He eventually took the lead with 250 meters to go, then hung on with runners closing hard behind.

“I was thinking, ‘I really don’t want to lose right now,’ and I found a way to make it happen,” Allen said about the state title. “In the [3,200] I really wanted to win, but didn’t race smart enough, I guess. I used that as motivation.”

Allen was pleased with his senior running seasons, despite not achieving goals – although coming close – as far as the times he wanted to run in any of the big races.

Two of his personal-best times were 9:01.2 in the 3,200 and 4:13.7 in the 1,600.

“I was pretty happy with the year overall,” Allen said.

Allen will continue his running career at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he was accepted in early May and will report June 26. In addition to running, his plans are to become a fighter pilot or combat rescue officer.

NOTE: Overall, the state title won by Allen was his second during a four-year high-school career. He won a state cross country championship as a sophomore in Oklahoma.