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Sports >  High school sports

Allie Janke leaves North Central as one of state’s most-decorated distance runners

UPDATED: Wed., June 9, 2021

North Central's Allie Janke cruises to a win in the 3,200-meter run finals at the 2019 State 2A track and field meet in Tacoma, Wash. Janke posted a meet-record time of 10:10.83.   (Patrick Hagerty/For The Spokesman-Review)
North Central's Allie Janke cruises to a win in the 3,200-meter run finals at the 2019 State 2A track and field meet in Tacoma, Wash. Janke posted a meet-record time of 10:10.83.  (Patrick Hagerty/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Keenan Gray For The Spokesman-Review

Allie Janke won her first state title in the 1,600-meter run as a ninth-grader at the 2018 State 3A track and field championships.

Winning a state title at that age was impressive, and her future was full of potential.

Over her career at North Central, Janke won two more cross country state titles and broke state track meet records in the 1,600 and the 3,200, cementing her legacy as one of the greatest high school runners in state history – despite losing two state track meets and a state cross country meet to the pandemic.

Janke’s senior season was much different from those before her – running cross country and track in a span of three months due to the condensed, truncated high school seasons.

She competed in just nine races between the two seasons, but won three more GSL titles in the 1,600, 3,200 and 5K in cross country.

“It was hard in the moment to realize this was the last time I’ll be racing for North Central,” Janke said.

Her running career won’t stop here.

Janke will run for the University of Arkansas this fall and is joining one of the most-heralded recruiting classes for coach Lance Harter and the Razorbacks.

Other athletes from North Central, such as Allie’s brother Justin, her former teammates Erinn and Mia Hill, and Katie Knight have all gone on to run for Division I programs.

“North Central has had such a great program for young athletes that want to come in and thrive at the state and national level,” Janke said. “I never thought I would be where I am at today if I hadn’t gone for the chances I have taken.

“There’s always been this hard-working vibe around North Central which makes it unique and special, and I really hope to find a similar type of community at Arkansas. It is the end of an era, but it’s also the beginning of a new chapter.”

Despite the pandemic, other opportunities opened up for Janke in this shortened season.

She was invited to compete at the Portland Track Festival at Lewis & Clark College in May in the women’s high performance 1,500-meter race, featuring some of the best professional runners in the country.

“It was a big honor to get even accepted into the meet,” Janke said. “To not only be at the same meet as some professional runners, but to be in the same race as them was such a cool opportunity.”

Athletes from the Bowerman Track Club, New Balance, Brooks and a few colleges were among those who were present, giving Janke an opportunity to know what it’s like to compete with high-caliber athletes.

“ ‘Respect everyone and fear no one’ was the mentality heading into the meet,” Janke said. “These women are faster and have more experience than me, but I didn’t want to shy away from the competition. The goal was to not finish last, because that’s the caliber of the competition I was going up against.”

Janke placed 28th out of 31, running a personal-best time and a nation-leading mark of 4 minutes, 23.42 seconds for high schoolers, which has since been eclipsed.

In preparation for college, Janke wanted to know what it took to run against the “big dogs.”

“I’ve gotten so little opportunities over the last year and a half with COVID and with everything being canceled,” Janke said. “But I’m finally here, and I was scared because these are big-time competitors, but I might as well see what I can do against this type of competition. Those ladies were so fast that they helped me perform at my best.”

A week later, Janke made her return to Portland for the Stumptown Twilight, where she raced two familiar faces from Washington – Issaquah’s Julia David-Smith and Bellarmine Prep’s Ella Borsheim in the girls 3,200.

“Me being a 3A runner and them as 4A runners, we don’t get very many opportunities to race each other,” Janke said. “But during the regular season, we look forward to racing each other because we all benefit from the competition, especially when it comes to running in postseason.”

Janke won with a season-best time of 10:17.89, just 7 seconds off her personal-best mark.

However, Janke hopes her high school racing isn’t quite over yet. She’s awaiting an invite to compete at the Brooks PR Meet in July.

“The loss of state championships and winning state titles took a while to digest,” said Janke. “It was always fun going to those meets to compete at that type of level, but ultimately there are so many more experiences to come, and I have to be grateful for what I have been able to do.”

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