When he initially signed up for track in the spring of his freshman year at King Philip, Jack Allan was looking for something to fill time and to keep him in shape for the fall soccer season and swim in the winter. By his own admission, he wasn’t particularly great that first season on the track.
Eight years later and Allan is now a standout for Brandeis University, captain of the track team, and setting new program records in the heptathlon, decathlon, and most recently in the 60-meter hurdles. His heptathlon score is currently 10th best in the nation in Div. III and he is on pace to qualify for nationals.
“I was really bad at baseball so I naturally started doing track to keep me busy,” he joked. “My freshman year I was no good, but my sophomore year I started to find some success. I grew into my body and I really started to love it and the personal achievement you can find.
“There is a competitive aspect to it but when you can really work hard at something and compete against yourself and get that personal achievement it really drove me.”
His senior year at KP, Allan took third in both the 110-meter hurdles and the triple jump and fifth in the long jump at the Hockomock Outdoor Track Championships. He was drawn to those events because, as he put it, “running is pretty boring on a base level.” He added, “Throw some hurdles on a track and run over those is a lot more exciting than just running in circles for however long you do it.”
When he got to Brandeis, he expected those would be the events that he would be competing in. As it turned out, new assistant coach Jason Sliwoski saw the potential for more. He noticed Allan’s height and his athleticism and had Allan start training for the heptathlon and the decathlon. It turned out to be a record-breaking fit.
“I didn’t know it at the moment but he was so right,” Allan explained, “and I’m so glad that he knew right away that this was something that would work out for me and something that I’d find success in.”
Success in those events was nearly taken away from Allan during the indoor track season as a sophomore. He suffered a significant injury to his labrum while pole vaulting at the New England meet. While he finished that heptathlon in a top five place, he was limited to hurdles and jumps during the outdoor season.
He had surgery to fix his shoulder over that summer, but there was concern that he wouldn’t be able to take part in those events any more because of the strain that something like pole vaulting would cause. Allan took advantage of his recuperation period to study abroad in Amsterdam, clear his head, and regain his focus to come back even stronger for his junior season.
“It kind of allowed me to get away from track because it’s so much in college. It’s practice everyday, multiple hours, and lifts in the morning,” he said. “It made me really want to compete, to really get back into it, I hated being away from it, I hated being injured, and it drove me so much to get back at it.”
When asked about the new perspective that he gained while out injured and how that has impacted his performance, Allan replied, “It kind of felt like it could be taken away from so easily. This will be the end of my track career after college, so it made me focus everything I have on it and give everything I got.”
That attitude has certainly paid dividends for the Judges on the track.
Last spring, Allan set a new Brandeis mark with a 5,998 in the decathlon at the DIII New England Championship meet, eclipsing a record that had stood since 1980. A week later, he became the first athlete in program history to eclipse the 6,000-point mark, finishing with a 6,121 at the All-New England Championships. He set new PRs in the 1,500-meter run (the event that pushed him past 6,000), the javelin, and the pole vault.
“It was like a weight lifted off my shoulder that I finally got over 6,000 points and I felt like I could look beyond it now and set my goals higher,” he said.
At the Branwen Smith-King Invitational at Tufts University in early February, Allan broke his own school record in the heptathlon (for the second time this season). He finished with 4,782 points and demonstrated his range of talents by finishing first or second in five of the seven events, including PRs in long jump and hurdles.
With a few meets remaining, including the conference meet in New York City at the end of the month, Allan is in position to fulfill his goal of reaching nationals for the first time in his career. He was only 300 points shy of qualifying in the decathlon last spring.
“That’s the biggest goal that I’ve been thinking about for the past three years at Brandeis,” he said. “Seeing my older teammates go, it’s always been a goal of mine and I really hope that the score I have would make it.” He noted that for the past five seasons, his current score would have been good enough to make the trip.
Just last week, Allan added to his impressive resume by finishing the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 8.46 seconds, breaking a decade-old record by a tenth of a second.
“I think it really validates that what I’ve been working on and putting in these hours with my coach down on the track that it’s all paying off,” he said. “Once you break something, you get that confidence that things are possible and it’s not just an unachievable number in a record book somewhere, but something I can break and something I think I can keep getting better at.
“It’s really crazy. I didn’t expect to be in this position. It really just puts into perspective that I’m doing something Brandeis hasn’t seen before.”
Allan still has unfinished business with goals like reaching nationals and then finishing in the top eight to achieve All-American status, but he also recognizes that his track career is rapidly coming to a close and he is trying to enjoy the time that he gets to spend competing with his teammates.
“Just competing and practicing with my team everyday makes me so happy,” Allan reflected, “and I’m just living in the moment and appreciating it all before it comes to an end. I know it’s going to fly by so I’m just appreciating the little moments with my team.”
The UAA Championships will start on February 29 at NYU and the NCAA Championships start on March 13 at JDL Fast Track in North Carolina.
The Rocketeers erased a two-goal deficit over the final 22 minutes of play to secure a 3-3 tie with Hockomock rival King Philip, and with the point, North Attleboro punches its ticket to the state tournament.
“They were outstanding,” said North Attleboro head coach Ben McManama after his Rocketeers controlled the third period from start to finish. “We knew we needed our best period of hockey and they delivered. I think it was obvious how hard we worked, how well we worked together and how we stuck to our systems. It was fun to watch.”
The Big Red comeback started, surprisingly enough, on the heels of King Philip’s second goal of the second period. The Warriors had leveled the scoring in the first period, tying the game through 15 minutes, and went on to tack on two goals in the first eight minutes of the second period.
Sophomore Nolan Feyler put KP ahead just 1:18 into the second and scored his second with 6:59 left in the period as the Warriors looked poised to skate away with the game, up 3-1 with three straight goals.
But North Attleboro responded in a timely manner, using a smart hustle play that gave the hosts life. Senior Dennis Morehouse found classmate Jack Connolly entering the zone on the left side and Connolly unleashed a low shot. King Philip goalie Jesper Makudera (25 saves) made the pad stop but North sophomore Nik Kojoian made a great read and won the race to the loose puck, batting the rebound in to make it 3-2.
The goal came just 43 seconds after the Warriors built their two-goal advantage.
“That’s the type of play we needed,” McManama said. “It’s just the little things we talk about. That’s getting the puck to the net, shooting it low and someone else driving hard. That’s hockey, it’s basic and something we preach all the time but we get away from it. Now we’re getting some goals off it so they are seeing it works.
“That’s a very good team we played and I thought we played.”
Makudera came up with a big stick save to stop a five-hole shot from Morehouse with 15 seconds left and North Attleboro goalie Nick Digiacomo (15 saves) was equal to the task on a shot from KP’s Conor Cooke with less than a second to go.
Trailing by just a goal with the postseason a point away, the Rocketeers put together a terrific third period. And it didn’t take long for the hosts to pull even. Just under five minutes into the period, Jeff Baker had his bid knocked away but Morehouse was quick to pounce on the loose puck and blasted it into the back of the net to make it 3-3 with 10:48 to go.
North had a couple of looks at the winner but couldn’t get another put back Makudera. Connolly came flying down the left side and rifled a shot that was covered up. Minutes later, North’s Tyler Sarro and Jake McNeany were inches from a loose puck in front of goal but Makudera dove on top.
Connolly had another chance after a faceoff bounced in front of goal but he couldn’t lift his backhand bid over the goalie.
King Philip had just two shots on goal in the entire third, spending most of the period playing defense. But with under a minute to go, the Warriors had a surge into the zone and Jack Coulter unleashed a blast but it hit off the crossbar and stayed out.
“We haven’t been able to close teams out,” said King Philip coach Paul Carlow. “We played a great second period. I’m not sure if we’re satisfied when we get the lead, or if we’re satisfied with the tie. I’d like to see us put some teams away, especially this time of year. [North Attleboro] is a good team but I felt like we could have won today.”
North Attleboro got off to a strong start early on as Digiacomo came up with a terrific positional save, denying a point-blank chance from Cooke after a great feed from Coulter.
And minutes later, Morehouse skated in uncontested down the right side and flicked his shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with less than three minutes expired.
King Philip answered at the midway point of the period, and in similar fashion to the bid that was denied early on. Coulter forced a turnover behind the net and linked up with Cooke, who initially looked at goal but instead dished a pass in front and Aidan Boulger buried the one-timer to make it 1-1 with 7:31 left in the first.
Rocco Bianculli was the catalyst of KP’s second goal, taking control of a loose puck in the neutral zone and speeding into the offensive zone. He laid a pass off to Chris Daniels, and he quickly fed the puck across to Feyler for the finish plus a 2-1 lead with 13:42 left in the second.
The Warriors went on the power play shortly before the midway point of the game and took full advantage of their chance. Joe Bosellii, who just had a shot saved, let another rip go that was blocked down, the puck eventually finding Feyler for the finish in close.
“I didn’t think we came out that strong in the beginning, we always seem to give up the first goal,” Carlow said. “But after that, we got the goal back, we seemed to get stronger. Then we got the power play goal, which always helps. In the third, we had a broken skate blade and we ended up running around a little bit, couldn’t get the puck out of our zone and it ends up in the back of the net.
“[North Attleboro] needed a point [to qualify], they definitely had a little more 1-2 in the third than we did.”
Both teams have time to prepare for the postseason. King Philip (4-2-2 Hockomock, 10-4-4 overall) has two games left, including a trip to Rodman Arena on Saturday to take on Walpole, and a home game on Monday afternoon against a good Norwood team.
“We haven’t lost in the last four or five games, we’ve won or tied, but I’d like to see us play a complete game going into the playoffs,” Carlow said. “From the drop of the puck to the final whistle. Overall, I like the way they are playing. They are playing strong defensively for the most part, we aren’t giving up a bunch of goals. I’d like to see us put a few more in.”
North Attleboro boys hockey (2-3-3, 7-6-6) will wrap up its regular season on Friday night when it takes on rival Bishop Feehan in what will likely be a playoff atmosphere.
“It’s more about how you’re playing when the playoffs come [instead of record] and when we look at it, especially that third period, we feel like we can do some work in the playoffs if we play like that. We have a big game on Friday against a rival, but I like where we’re at, I really do, but we just have to keep working.”
King Philip senior Mike Griffin was today named the state’s Gatorade Runner of the Year for Cross-Country. It is the first time that a KP athlete has received this honor in any sport. Griffin is also a finalist for the national runner of the year award, which will be announced this month.
He is the third Hockomock runner to receive this honor, following Mansfield Patrick McGowan (2010) and Oliver Ames’ Mike Moverman (2009). Griffin is the 19th Hock athlete to be named a Gatorade Player of the Year in any sport and the first since North Attleboro’s Meg Colleran won for softball in 2014.
Per the press release from Gatorade, “The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Griffin as Massachusetts’ best high school boys cross country runner.
Griffin won the Hockomock League Championship meet at the Wrentham Development Center for the second year in a row, winning the race by 18 seconds ahead of Franklin’s Tyler Brogan. The University of Tennessee-commit concluded his impressive four-year cross-country career by winning the Div. 1 state meet in a time of 16:06, which was seven seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
He also finished eighth at the Foot Locker East Regional meet and then 36th in the national championships.
KP boys cross-country coach Chris Elgar said, “Mike’s Gatorade AOY recognition to me reflects the culmination of hard work and persistent determination since day one in August of 2016. What may be over looked in all of this is how humble and selfless he is.
“He is loved by his teammates and respected by his opponents. He is so deserving of every accolade that he has earned. Personally it has been an absolute honor working with him.”
In addition to his success in cross-country, Griffin also won the 1,000 meters at this past weekend’s league indoor track championships and ran the final leg for KP’s first place 4×800 relay team.
As part of the Gatorade award, Griffin will be able to donate $1,000 to a local or national youth sports organization of his choice.
The Hornets controlled the opening 15 minutes, seizing a 2-0 lead only for the Warriors to respond with an equally as dominant second period that netted a pair of goals and had the teams deadlocked entering the final period.
The play on the ice certainly favored King Philip in the third period but nothing changed on the scoreboard as Mansfield senior goalie Sean McCafferty shined between the pipes to deny the Warriors a third goal, stealing a point in a 2-2 non-league contest between division rivals.
“In the third period he was unbelievable,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Balzarini as McCafferty recorded 15 of his 27 saves in the last period to prevent KP from grabbing its 10th win of the season.
The point helps Mansfield move within five points of qualifying for the state tournament, although the Hornets could qualify with a point against Foxboro on Friday, securing a second place finish in the Kelley-Rex.
“He’s been the backbone of this team all year long,” Balzarini continued about McCafferty. “Games we’ve won, games that we’ve tied, even games that we’ve lost, he’s played great. He played phenomenal against Winthrop even though they scored what they did, it could have been a lot more. And he was great again tonight in the third.”
What looked like a good start for King Philip ended up being a big moment for Mansfield. The Warriors went on the power play just over a minute into the contest but were caught a bit flat-footed. Hornet senior Kevin Belanger won a battle at the blue line and skated in on a breakaway. He cut across the front of the net and deposited the puck five-hole to give Mansfield a 1-0 lead just 1:46 into the game.
From there, the Hornets piled it on in the opening period, holding an 11-4 advantage on shot on goals. Just past the midway point of the period, an interference call in the neutral zone presented the Hornets with a power play opportunity and Mansfield cashed in just over a minute in.
After Chris Jenkins had a shot blocked, Belanger quickly batted the loose buck on goal. King Philip goalie Jesper Makudera (17 saves) made a pad stop but Jake Lund was the first to the rebound and buried it into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead with 5:31 to play in the first.
Mansfield nearly made it 3-0 in the first in the final minutes when Belanger flew into the offensive zone and fired a wrist shot that clanked off the far post and stayed out.
The second period couldn’t have gone much different than the first as it was all King Philip from the first face off. Junior Justin Yatsuhashi had an early chance after a turnover but his backhand from in close was over the bar.
Mansfield’s Sam Clayman came up with a big stop on a two-on-one chance for the Warriors at the 12 minute mark but the Warriors kept applying pressure and came up with a power play chance with 8:32 to go in the second.
McCafferty came up with early saves on the man-down situation stopping a give-and-go between Joe Boselli and Nolan Feyler, the former depositing a shot right into the goalie’s chest. Senior defenseman Kyle Gray also had a blast denied in the open portion of the power play.
Finally the pressure paid off as Gray fired a low show that was saved but senior Chris Daniels was in perfect position in front to clean up the rebound with a nice backhand finish to make it 2-1.
“It was very similar to the first game,” said KP coach Paul Carlow, the Warriors having erased a two-goal deficit in the first meeting as well. “I try to use analogies with the kids…you never want to get punched in the face first, right? But we almost have to. First shot on net goes in both games. I love their resolve, I love their battle…they don’t quit. I’d love to see us come out [to start] like we did in the second. Hopefully we get that.”
King Philip capitalized on the momentum and needed just 17 seconds to find the equalizing goal. The puck popped up near the blue line and was brought down by a Hornet but King Philip’s Jack Coulter was alert to the play, applying pressure and came away with the puck.
It resulted in a two-on-one chance for KP and Coulter slid a pass across for a finish from Aidan Boulger to make it 2-2 with 6:55 to play in the second. The Warriors had another power play chance late in the period but the Hornets killed it off.
“I think there’s always a natural letdown after qualifying for the tournament, especially for a team that isn’t used to being there,” Carlow said. “We’re in and maybe we took our foot off the gas, I think that was what happened in the first. But I love the way they responded, they came out and tied it in the second. And I felt like we outplayed them down the stretch, we certainly had more quality chances in the third.
“Mansfield always plays us tough. [McCafferty] certainly played well for them tonight. They are a good team, I think they’ll get into the tournament.”
The result of the period featured stop after stop from McCafferty. Coulter fired a shot that was redirected by Conor Cooke only to be denied by the McCafferty’s mask. Yatsuhashi had a found chance swallowed up.
The best chance came at the midway point when Boselli came away with a breakaway chance, making a move to get past McCafferty but the goalie did enough for force Boselli wide enough that his bid on goal hit the post and stayed out. KP had two rebound chances after with Feyler and Rocco Bianculli burying shots on net but were stoned by McCafferty.
Mansfield nearly came up with a chance to steal the win on a two-on-one break but Gray made a terrific read to stop the bid.
King Philip’s final chances were from Feyler, who took a pass from Bianculli, but didn’t get all of it when he spun around to fire a shot on goal. And Noah Ray got a piece of a shot from Bianculli but again McCafferty was up to the task.
“[Two-goal leads] have not been our friend at all,” Balzarini said, noting the first meeting against KP plus a pair of two-goal leads against Franklin that both disappeared. “We were struggling starting, and now that’s getting better, but we just have to put together a 45-minute game. There are times we get complacent and we stray away from what we’re trying to focus on within our system. I thought our forecheck was great in the first period and then we just were kind of on our heels.”
King Philip boys hockey (4-2-2 Hockomock, 9-4-3 overall) will host Oliver Ames on Saturday while Mansfield (3-1-3, 5-6-5) will play its final league game of the year against Foxboro. If Mansfield wins, they will finish alone in second place, while a tie would mean the Hornets share second with KP, both situations securing Mansfield a playoff berth. A Foxboro win would mean Mansfield finished third in the division and need five points in its final three games.