A-K Valley Senior Spotlight: Burrell’s Allison Smola

Sunday, June 9, 2024 | 8:34 PM

In last year’s PIAA track and field championships, Burrell’s Allison Smola got hurt in the preliminaries for the 100 hurdles.

This year, she was looking for redemption and it started with her offseason training.

“I know she did a lot of lifting at the local gym, and that was her focus,” Bucs coach Faith Remich said.

Said Smola: “I focused mainly on my legs, to get my strength up. I trained with the owner of my gym once a week. She gave me good workouts and mobility training for my hips and legs. Once I was comfortable with that, I would go twice a week. I did that for four or five months before the season started.”

The hardest thing for Smola to overcome was the mental aspect of the injury. She needed to get back to the same frame of mind she was in before she got hurt.

“Coming back from the injury was a process that was more mental than physical,” Smola said. “ I had a lot of mental blocks, so I worked on improving my mentality to be able to race how I did last year.”

Smola also prepared with the new hurdle coach who came on after her previous coach retired last year.

“We would practice once a week to get a feel for hurdling again,” Smola said. “Trying to get my movements down and my mobility back, she was able to pinpoint what I needed to work on, just to get ahead of the game.”

Everything Smola did in the offseason paid off. She was seeded fifth going into the WPIAL championships and finished third in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.94 seconds, which was two-tenths of a second slower than her personal best of 15.73.

She qualified for states again, and her hope was to race a 15.50, which she knew she could have a chance at reaching.

“I’m in the No. 1 heat with the top hurdler, and that’s going to provide me with extra motivation because I’m going to see her and it’ll push me,” Smola said. “It’s my last year running, and after last season, I want to redeem myself.”

Allison finished her redemption arch, finishing with a new personal best time of 15.42. It did not qualify her for the finals in the Class 2A PIAA championships, but she was proud of what she accomplished.

“I was more than happy just to finish the race and keep up with the lead,” she said. “Seeing the time, I was proud of myself for completing the goals I set for myself this year.”

Wrapping up the season, Smola took some time for a Senior Spotlight Q&A:

How did you get started with hurdling?

We used to do a mini track camp for middle schoolers at Burrell. They did a demonstration for hurdles, and my cousin did hurdles. So, when I saw her, I wanted to try it. I started in seventh grade, and I’ve loved it ever since.

What’s going through your mind when you’re at the starting line?

It’s a lot of nerves, and I get jittery. I just think about what I need to do and what I was working on in the practices leading up to a competition.

Do you play any other sports at Burrell?

I played tennis for the first time ever this year. I used to play volleyball, but I wanted to try something new for my senior year.

Did you find that running helped with your agility and endurance on the tennis court?

For sure. Training for track, having practices here and there, helped to keep my endurance and agility up.

What’s one thing people may not know about you?

I like art, I like to paint, to draw. I also read a lot. Whenever I have free time, I’m doing something outside of my depth.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read?

“Opposite of Always” by Justin Reynolds

Favorite high school memory?

I was on the homecoming court, and we got to create a dance for the pep rally before the game. Just being on the court, going to the football game with my friends and going out for food afterwards was a memorable night.

What are your college plans?

I’ll be attending Slippery Rock University in the fall and majoring in business right now. I want to start there, but I might switch to forensic psychology.

Piece of advice you want to leave your teammates?

You’re your own limit. Try whatever you want and don’t be hesitant to try new things.


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