With two throws to go in the finals flight of the Class 6A javelin on Friday, Derby senior Trent Allen motioned to the announcer that he was passing on his attempt.
It was a move of supreme confidence, but why not? No one was going to challenge him.
His throw of 210 feet on his second attempt was 18 feet better than the current second-place competitor. And of his three throws, the shortest was 202-1.
After he passed on his last throw of the competition that he had already won, he accepted a fist-pound and a couple of handshakes in congratulations.
The 6A title was his first, but there was little fanfare. It was expected.
“Most people know what my (personal record) is,” said Allen, who has signed to throw at Johnson County Community College. “I beat everybody by 15 feet.
“There’s always pressure at the state meet. But confidence was mostly overriding that.”
Allen threw 221-3 to win the KU Relays in April. It was the nation’s best high school throw at that point and ranks fifth in Kansas history.
Allen picked up the javelin as a freshman because he was irked he had been cut from the Campus baseball team. He quickly fell in love with the event.
“It kind of makes you feel like a warrior — you’re throwing a spear,” Allen said. “They’ve been throwing spears for thousands and thousands of years.”
He consistently threw around 170 and 180 as a junior, then threw a personal record of 191 late in the season. It was an impressive improvement, and it also served as a sort of awakening for him.
Allen is a three-sport athlete. He was a linebacker for the Panthers, who won the 2015 Class 6A title in November, and a wrestler.
But he never took off time from the javelin.
“That’s when I kind of realized I can definitely be really good at this. I did the little things in practice, and look at how much I improved,” Allen said.
“Through the next summer, I was lifting weights, practicing year round through football, through wrestling. I even threw in the snow sometimes on the practice field.”
Derby track coach Shelby Wehrman added: “During the summer I see him out there with a javelin. Now, we’re in football mode at Derby, and he’s out there throwing. He does drills and just throws, throws,”
While his technique was strong last season, Allen was frustrated by his lack of arm speed.
“That was the thing that was killing me,” he said. “It was not where it should be. I spent a lot of time lifting, every morning, after school.”
“He worked primarily on his legs and on his shoulders and his technique improved,” Derby javelin coach Don Fisher said. “We all see the little things that have gotten better, and he’s been consistently over 200. That’s pretty phenomenal.”
Allen, who is often teased for constantly having a protein shake in hand while at school, zoned in on fixing the little things.
“Once we got into the season this year, every problem that I had every week, I tried to take off that problem,” Allen said.
He quickly saw the results. First there was his 203, then 211 and then the biggie, the 221 at the KU Relays.
And now a state championship.
“It’s pretty satisfying, especially after taking fourth last year,” Allen said. “Put in the work and it all pays off in the end. I put in the time knowing that it will pay off at some point in time.”