Although not known as being a hotbed for track athletes, the program at Oblong High School has been getting consistently better and more competitive since Travis Reider has been the coach and senior Sophia Allen is reaping some of those benefits.
Allen recently became the first OHS track athlete under Reider to commit to competing in college, as she signed a letter-of-intent to run at Greenville College next year.
"This is very exciting," Allen said. "I am looking forward to running track and excited to get to try cross country. I have always like running longer distances, so getting a chance to do it competitively is very exciting."
"It's awesome," Reider said. "She is a great kid, a model student, has a great work ethic and is someone you can depend on. She will do very well running in college and I couldn't be prouder of her."
Likewise, her college coach, Brian Patton, is excited to have a runner with Allen's ability joining his program.
"She is the total package," Patton said. "She is not just a good runner, but she will also make a difference academically and with how she carries herself."
While Allen has never run cross country competitively, she has run the longer distances during the track season and Patton believes that will translate well.
"She runs fast enough and if we can get her some consistent training, I believe she can be a lot better than she's ever been," Patton said. "I don't believe we've seen what she can really do yet. We lose a lot of good runners after this season, so we need girls like Sophia that can come in and help immediately."
Allen, who will be pursuing a degree in Pre-Med, is ready for the challenge of competing at the next level.
"I am looking forward to the challenge of coming in and running right away," Allen said. "I want to improve my mile time and feel like the coaches will push me. I also believe, with the coaches help, I can be successful in cross country, too."
Reider added that Allen's signing is a boost for the OHS program, which has had athletes in the past receive interest from colleges, but none of them decided to pursue competing at the next level.
"This is a big deal for our program," Reider said. "This shows that if you put in the work, you can get to the next level if that's what you want to do."