Monmouth Academy’s Alexa Allen pushes herself up the steep incline as she competes in the Mountain Valley Conference cross country championships at the University of Maine at Augusta in October. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Alexa Allen topped off her spectacular cross country season by charting her next course at the United State Coast Guard Academy next year.

The Monmouth Academy senior, who is also an outstanding student, has been named the 2021 Sun Journal All-Region Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year in part for her strong finish at the Class C state championship, where she finished fifth and ninth overall among A, B and C competitors with a time of 19:22.42 — a personal best.

Allen also was victorious in the Mountain Valley Conference championship and the Class C South regional.

Her accomplishments in cross country are amazing considering the senior didn’t start competing in the sport until her junior year. She gave up soccer to run the trails and will still play basketball and run outdoor track for Monmouth before heading off to New London, Conn., to pursue her studies and be commissioned as an ensign.

“I didn’t really have much of a background going into the season of how things would pan out,” Allen said. “I was basically training without a purpose. It was more, ‘OK, I have to train but didn’t know what to expect.’ 

“But this season, I had a lot of different goals that I wanted to meet. I had built expectations for myself to meet those goals. I hopefully trained a lot better going into the season.”

Allen did train harder over the past summer with her coach, Tom Menendez, who brought her and teammate Brosnan Comeau to Bates College to train for a couple of days a week on the Bobcats’ track. The two athletes worked on form and used sprints and middle and long distances to increase their strength.

“She is a very, very fierce competitor,” Menendez said. “She is a kid who wants to learn everything about the sport and work it through. You look at her and she is one of the sweetest, nicest kids in the world, but when that gun goes off, get the heck out of the way because there is absolutely nobody that can get between her and that finish line.

“Now, she was fifth at the state meet, but when you put all the final tabulations together, she ended up ninth overall. So there were only two Class A and two Class B girls that were faster than her on that day. That tells you how tough Class C was this year.”

All that hard work and diligence paid off for her and success ended up being a pleasant surprise for Allen at the state competition.

“I didn’t really have much knowledge of anything past MVCs because that was all we were able to have last season (2020),” she explained. “Everything after that was new and different to me.”

“She worked hard over the summer,” Menendez said. “She put in 35, 40 miles a week. She really set the standard for the Monmouth Academy girls and her leaving is going to leave a legacy that these kids are going to have to look up to and be as good as she was.”

But Allen, who knows how to think on her feet, quickly acclimated herself to the state competition and set her own personal record.

“I think in the last 800 meters, our assistant coach was out there,” Allen recalled. “She told me I had a chance to beat my PR … so I just kicked it out from there.”

“When we went up to Belfast for the state meet, Alexa was running with those top runners for a while and she ended up fifth,” Menendez said. “She ended up running almost 25, 30 seconds faster than she did at the Festival of Champions (on the same course). Remember, the state meet was rainy and muddy conditions and she ran that much faster.”

But Allen has always been a go-getter and decided to become a sailor as well as serve her country.

“I love that it is a humanitarian service,” she said. “Going into the Coast Guard, it just met everything I was looking for in all areas. At that point, I didn’t know if I would get in there or not. I am very thankful that the pressure is off my chest.

“I want to mention, too, that my dad also served 24 years in the Coast Guard so it is more close to home than the other military branches for me.”

Allen said she has been in touch with the Coast Guard’s cross country coach and will likely remain a three-sport athlete there, where she will also run indoor and outdoor track.

“She is the first person in two decades that I awarded the captain’s pin to,” a proud Menendez said. “She is a leader. She took over the stretching, took over this, took over that and she did it quietly. She is just a very quiet, inspirational kid.” 

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