Call him Mr. Versatility.
It’s hard to pigeonhole Sean Allen into one track and field event. That’s because the Riverhead High School senior is so good at a number of them.
Just look at some of the indoor events Allen competed in last winter: the 55-meter hurdles, 600, high jump, 4 x 800 relay and 1,000. He used it all as preparation for the spring season when he competed in the pentathlon, a five-event competition seemingly made for him.
Perhaps the toughest question Riverhead coach Sal Loverde fielded after the team’s first preseason practice on Tuesday was this: What is Allen’s best event?
Tough to say.
“A kid like Sean, I think it’s hard to really pick out what he’s really best at,” answered Loverde.
Allen will tell you his best indoor event is the 1,500, “but I probably enjoy hurdles or high jump more.”
A scan of Allen’s best indoor performances gives an indication of the type of all-around athlete he is: high jump (5 feet, 10 inches), 55 hurdles (9.10 seconds), 300 (41.65), 600 (1:32.63), 1,000 (3:04.49), 1,600 (5:03.59) and one-mile run (4:59.25).
“That’s what I’m talking about — versatility,” said Loverde.
Allen said, “I’m not necessarily the best in everything, but I’m up there in everything.”
Loverde said Allen had a “great season last winter. We utilized him in many different areas and he performed exceptionally well.”
This season Allen is part of a good-looking corps of long-distance runners running under the Riverhead flag, including Ryan Carrick, Ryan Keane, Ben Catanzaro, Mike Burns and Kaden Lynch.
Coaches like to kid Allen about his long, blond locks, but they value him for his leadership almost as much as his athleticism.
“He really is someone who keeps all the kids accountable in all different events,” said assistant coach Justin Cobis, who trains the team’s long-distance runners. “He’s got a great work ethic. He’s a kid who rode his bike all summer back and forth from Baiting Hollow to Indian Island [County Park in Riverhead] to run with the cross-country team, and he didn’t even run cross country. He ended up on the soccer team.”
Allen was a midfielder for the Riverhead soccer team but, not surprisingly, has played other positions over the course of his soccer career, including central defender and goalkeeper.
Allen said he has taken to every sport he has tried — hockey, lacrosse, skiing and wakeboarding among them.
Outside of the sporting arena, Allen is a standout in the classroom, too. He ranks 13th in his class academically.
“I try to take it seriously,” he said. “My mentality toward school is that I’m not necessarily fond of being in school, but if I’m there, you might as well learn something. I think it’s the same thing in track. I love being in track with my friends and everything. At the same time, I may not love track all the time, but when I’m there, I’m working at it, you know what I mean? You might as well get something out of it.”
Asked if he has noticed any changes in Allen since last year, Loverde replied: “Has anything changed? I could only say this: I hope not … I hope nothing has changed because what he brings to the table is awesome. As a student/athlete, you could not ask for a better example.”
The 6-3 Allen said he wants to cut down his 600 time and try to break the school’s indoor high jump record of 6-0 that Davion Porter set in 2013. “The winter high jump is just outside of my reach. It’s right there,” Allen said. “If I can just jump my own height, I have it.”
So, what does Allen really like about track? For one thing, stopwatches and tape measures don’t lie. He likes that.
“Track is so different because it’s an exact measurement of how good you are,” he said. “It’s different in that way. It’s not your team or chemistry. It’s a measurement of how hard you work. The only person responsible for your times and measurements are you.”
Loverde chuckled when someone mentioned to him that he wouldn’t mind having a team full of Sean Allens.
“Life would be a lot easier,” the coach said, “and we’d have a few more banners on the wall.”
Photo caption: Sean Allen running in a relay last winter at The Armory in New York City. (Justin Cobis courtesy photo)