Four years ago, Allie Saunders wasn’t sure she would continue her track and field career in college. Track was an enjoyable hobby for her but less of an extended career.
Today, Allie, junior jumper, is entering her final year at Texas State. She qualified June 13 to compete in the NCAA Track and Field Championship in Eugene, Oregon. Allie placed 21st in the triple jump with 12.52 meters, her fourth-best distance of the year. She was within seven inches of All-American status.
Allie, a Pearland High School graduate, went to track and field camp in elementary and middle school. She gave up her pursuit before trying out for the high school team.
“I never thought I would go into college for it because I never researched it or anything,” Allie said. “It was just very fun for me, so I tried it, and it actually turned into one of the reasons I actually did go to college.”
Allie was originally a runner for her high school team. She volunteered to be a jumper in her senior year when there was a shortage at the spot. She enjoyed the triple jump, which involves hopping, stepping and jumping from a running start.
“I was doing track for fun until my senior year,” Allie said. “My high school coach actually made me aware that I could get a scholarship for it. I never thought I would get into college until they pointed it out to me and showed me that I could compete at the college level.”
Andrew Gamble, former Pearland track and field coach, noticed Allie’s skill and competitive passion.
“There was another female jumper on our team one year that won state in triple jump,” Gamble said. “(Allie) was very competitive with her and wanted to beat her. That’s when I saw the passion and when I knew she would really be able to continue to the next level.”
Allie’s competitiveness originated from her family of athletes in track, soccer and football. She recalls a time when playing her family’s favorite board game, Apples to Apples, that there was palpable tension in the house. The family realized they were taking the game too far and laughed it off.
“Competitiveness runs in our family,” Allie said. “It would be odd if we weren’t. If we played board games with each other, the goal was to win.”
Allie, four years removed from a silver medal at her 2010 high school meet, is pleased with her decision to attend Texas State.
“I am pretty stubborn,” Allie said. “I don't like being put in a specific box. It helped me experience life differently as a student athlete instead of just a student. It also helped me mature because I had to listen to my coaches and stuff, so it gave me some type of discipline. I’m glad I did.”
Follow Devin Tyler on Twitter: @DevinNoOneCares