Justin Allen is no stranger to competitive athletics. Growing up in Oklahoma, a state where high school football is as important as attending church on Sundays, Allen was an All-State quarterback for Glenpool High School. After graduation, Allen transitioned to junior college, playing ball for Northeastern Oklahoma. From here, he had hopes of a being recruited to a Division 1 school and eventually accomplishing his dream of playing in the NFL. With top programs like Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas State knocking at his door, Allen was well on his way to achieving his goals.
Halfway through his sophomore year at NEO, Allen was playing in a game against Blinn Junior College, when his athletic dreams would take a dramatic turn. “We were No. 2 in the nation at the time and a ton of big time D-1 scouts were there,” he recalls. “I already had a couple of touchdown passes and one rushing. I scrambled up the middle and I stopped my feet to avoid another tackler and a guy hit my leg from the side. I landed on my stomach and knew something was broken.”
As soon as he turned back to examine the damage, he noticed his leg was at a 45-degree angle with a bone sticking out. Both his fibula and tibia were broken. “This was the beginning of the most painful months of my life,” he says.
Doctors told him would never play football again.
Luckily, a much lesser-known D-1 School, Southern Illinois University, decided to take a chance on Allen. “I told them I will be fine and I will play again. I ended up going there on a full ride with my crutches,” Allen laughs.
Once recovered, Allen was moved to wide receiver, a position he had never played. He quickly proved himself, earning a starting position and making All-Conference. “This experience really helped mold me into the person I am today,” says Allen. “Talk about going from a super high thinking you will play big time D-1 football to a super low bad break and doctors telling you that you will never play again. Then fighting back and getting a second chance.”
Although Allen never got his shot in the NFL, he has now turned his competitive sights on the Home Depot Center. “When I found CrossFit, it helped take away the sting of not making it to the NFL,” he says. “I feel like it has allowed me to dream big again.”
Currently sitting in 2nd in the North Central Region and 17th in the world, Allen’s dreams don’t seem that far out of reach. He has destroyed the first three Open workouts with 132 burpees, 88 snatches and 448 reps on 12.3.
New Chance in 2012
This won’t be Allen’s first trip to Regionals. He had a 5th place finish at the 2011 North Central Regional in Chicago. Although most would kill for such a great finish in one of the most competitive regions, Allen was disappointed. “I was in 3rd place going into Day 3. The first workout on that day was ‘Amanda’ (9-7-5 muscle-ups, squat snatches), which I had done a couple of times previously and usually finished around 6 minutes,” he says.
He recalls waking up more sore than usual that morning after the previous day’s brutal combo of the box jump/deadlift and 100s workouts. “Even though muscle-ups were never something I considered a strength, they seemed harder than usual and I started failing them. I ended up with a time of over 8 minutes.”
After “Amanda,” Allen dropped to 5th place, with one workout remaining. “Going into the last workout, I knew I had to do well to get back into the top three. I was in the last heat with all of the guys ahead of me, so I told myself I just needed to win this event to give myself the best opportunity of making top three.”
Allen came out strong and took the lead going into the toes-to-bar portion of the workout. Unfortunately, a glaring weakness in toes-to-bar efficiency put him in 5th or 6th place coming off the bar. He was never able to make up the time on the lunge and sprint portion of the workout.
Allen learned a lot at last year’s Regional competition and has used his mistakes to train smarter for 2012. “I used to cringe when I saw a lot of toes-to-bar or muscle-ups. After being haunted by them last year, I have hit them hard and I will be more than happy to see either of those in the workouts this year.”