After offseason in gym, Penn Hills junior smashing shot put records

Monday, March 15, 2021 | 1:02 PM

Hard work and dedication in the weight room have paid off handsomely for Penn Hills junior Angelo Allen.

And he’s not finished yet.

The 5-foot-11, 235-pound Allen recently shattered a Penn Hills track team record in the indoor shot put event established 52 years ago by Jack Poindexter.

“I feel honored and proud that I, of all people, was finally able to beat and set a record,” Allen said. “You know, beating a record that old and having the title of being one of the best to ever compete in my school district is just unbelievable. But I did it.

“To be honest, my goal for the indoor season was to just have an opportunity to compete at a high level. Sadly, this indoor season was canceled. However, I was able to compete when a coach from Hempfield held an invite with my peers that were also like me — where they didn’t have a season and were looking for a chance to compete. Keep in my mind, I was training like a beast the whole offseason, and breaking the record kind of just happened naturally.”

Allen, 17, registered a toss of 56-3.5 on Feb. 6 at an indoor throwing meet at Hempfield to easily eclipse Poindexter’s mark of 53-10.5 set in 1969.

“When Angelo started training in December, I noticed not only how much bigger he was than last season but how much stronger he was,” Penn Hills coach Lee Zelkowitz said. “He really has been working hard in the weight room.

“I really didn’t have any expectations for him this indoor season. I didn’t think he was going to be able to attend any meets because of covid. Fortunately, he was able to go to two throwing meets at Hempfield.”

Prior to those meets, Allen’s personal-best distance in the indoor shot put was 51-9.75. He eclipsed his PR with a throw of 53-6.5 in the first meet, then logged his record-breaking toss at the second competition.

Poindexter also owns the Indians’ outdoor shot put record of 57-5, also set in 1969.

The last time Allen participated in an outdoor track meet was as a freshman at the WPIAL championships in May 2019. He was a medalist thanks to a heave of 47-10.25 — his personal best for the outdoor season.

“Obviously, Angelo is so far advanced from that,” Zelkowitz said. “He is not only on track to break the outdoor record, but nearing 60 feet and beyond this season is not a pipe dream.

“He came to our program as a promising freshman and even came to preseason workouts as an eighth grader with his sister Lillia, who was a state medalist for Penn Hills. I believe Angelo will continue to improve and will qualify for the state meet this year, and possibly contend for a medal at the state level.”

Allen went through a rigorous training schedule in the offseason, working out five days per week.

“I would do heavy weight training for two days in the gym at my high school and two days at home by myself,” Allen said. “And one additional day, I did plyometrics up at the high school, usually in the evening but definitely after normal throwing practice.”

Allen relies on an inner strength as a motivating factor in his taxing training routine.

“My motivation for training so hard is just to perfect the sport,” he said, “and to be as fit and capable as possible to take on any challenge that comes my way.

“As cliche as this may sound, my goal, not just in sports but in life as well, is to inspire the uninspired out there, to inspire people to have faith to press on in life and achieve their dreams. If I can show people that hard work, persistence and fun can lead to success — and if that can help or inspire them in any way — that makes me happy.”

Allen also is a top discus thrower for the Indians. He plans to compete in both the shot put and discus this spring.

“I have thought about doing other sports, but I decided to stay focused and committed to the two field events,” Allen said. “I’d say my goals for outdoor are to put all my time and focus on surpassing, not just the records for both discus and shot put but myself as well.”

Allen hopes to become the first Penn Hills athlete in school history to top 60 feet in the shot put and to eclipse 140 feet in the discus event.

“Discus is kind of an ‘odd pearl,’ ” he said, “because I haven’t competed in it in almost two years. But with enough practice and dedication, I can get it done.”


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