Cassidy Allen runs, jumps, vaults way into history
Cassidy Allen started gymnastics lessons when she was 5 years old at Flyers Gymnastics in Falconer.
Thirteen years later, the decision has paid huge dividends.
“It built the foundation for everything, I think,” Cassidy said. “Fitness and work ethic. It built my love for working out and always pushing myself and persevering through whatever I needed to, (as well as) setting goals and not being afraid to go get them.”
The daughter of Tom and Deborah Allen hasn’t just pursued those goals, she attained them, and then some.
No matter the obstacles.
That was especially apparent less than a week after she delivered her salutatory address at Southwestern’s graduation ceremony. Competing in the pole vault at the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, Cassidy finished sixth to earn All-American honors.
“She was leading the competition through the first three heights (12 feet, 1 inch, 12-7.5 and 13-0.25), but then needed to try new poles and made 13-4.5 on her second attempt,” said Mike Auble, Cassidy’s pole vault coach in June. “She used her biggest pole ever for 13-8.5 attempts and we couldn’t figure out the standards in time.”
To put Cassidy’s accomplishment into further perspective, she beat national record holder Paige Sommers, who had previously broken Leah Pasqualetti’s 14-8.25 national record.
“Not bad for a girl who flew red-eye because of weather delays and losing poles between connecting flights,” Auble said.
Accompanied by her father and Trojans assistant track & field coach Adam Brown, Cassidy had to navigate all kinds of obstacles just to compete at one of the sport’s most iconic venues. The trip itself — Lakewood to Pittsburgh and, ultimately, to Eugene — took a mind-numbing 27 hours.
“I was mainly concerned about my poles,” Cassidy said. “I was nearing like 20 hours of no sleep, and it was the night before the night before, and that’s the night that really matters. I was a little nervous. I knew the adrenaline would keep me going during the meet. I was also concerned that my performance would be hindered … and I wouldn’t be able to compete at my best.”
The day of the competition, Brown said, Cassidy was locked in.
“In the warmups, her game face was on,” Brown said. “Quite a few of the kids it was like it was a regular, old meet. … She really attacked it, 100 percent serious. This is the real deal. That attitude going into college is going to be unbelievable for her.”
Bound for the University of Akron later this month, Cassidy had already made a name for herself before she even made the trip to nationals, with it all coming to a head at the Section VI Division 2 Championships.
Competing at Bill Race Field in Falconer, Cassidy broke her own New York State Division 2 record in the pole vault (13-7); won the triple jump (38-4), while setting a school record in the process; and won the 200 meters (25.47). Her mark in the latter event was second all-time in Southwestern history. Meanwhile, twin sister Kayla won the pentathlon in another school-record effort, to cap an incredible day for the family and the Trojans’ girls program, which is under the direction of Coach Adam Frisbee.
“(Cassidy) was our best sprinter — 100 and 200 meters — and triple jumper,” Brown said. “She really sacrificed a lot for the team to help the team win its meets and win the Section VI Class C Championship. She set aside some personal goals for the benefit of the team. It shows the character of the kind of person she is.”
To further confirm that, Cassidy was the recipient of the Frank Hyde Memorial Scholarship, which is presented annually to the outstanding high school student-athlete in The Post-Journal’s circulation area that includes Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
Hyde, who was the newspaper’s sports editor from 1945-1979, valued young people who performed at a high level in both in the classroom and on the athletic fields. In 2021, nobody did it better than Cassidy.
And now she can add another notable entry to her resume: Post-Journal girls track & field Athlete of the Year.