After dominant performances in her first two cross-country sectionals, Allie Dalton returns Saturday wearing different colors.
Don’t expect them to slow her down.
Dalton, who ran for Greenwood Community High School while winning the 2014 meet by over 47 seconds and the 2013 sectional by nearly 26 seconds, is now a junior at Greenwood Christian Academy.
She looks forward to this latest opportunity against athletes from 12 other teams — including many of her former Greenwood teammates — on a 5K course she knows well.
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They are the first steps of what Dalton hopes is another long postseason journey.
She placed first at sectional last fall in a time of 18 minutes, 32.82 seconds. She then went on win the South Dearborn Regional (18:39.1) and Carmel Semistate (18:08.9) before coming in fourth at the IHSAA State Finals in Terre Haute (18:03.1).
Now two months into donning navy blue instead of green and gold, Dalton said her family’s decision to switch schools is entirely faith-based.
“It wasn’t related to sports at all. Our faith in Christ is a really big part of our lives, and just the opportunity to come here we felt led by God. We feel blessed to have this opportunity,” said Dalton, whose sister, Lauren, a senior, is one of her Greenwood Christian teammates. “The people here were so nice that I almost thought, ‘This can’t be real.’
“But it kept coming and kept coming, and it was real.”
Former Greenwood Community High School runner David Dalton, eldest of Chad and Amanda Dalton’s six children, is a sophomore cross-country runner at Purdue University. The three youngest Dalton children also are enrolled at Greenwood Christian Academy.
From strictly an athletics standpoint, the Daltons attending Greenwood Christian would seem a gift from the heavens. But Cougars girls and boys cross-country coach Joe Slater understands the school’s culture well enough to know it’s much more than that.
“We look at the family as a total package, and they’re just a wonderful family,” Slater said. “They’re here for the right reasons. They’re here for what the school stands for, what they can get at this school that you just can’t get in other places.”
But the Daltons’ presence has been a huge boost to the Cougars’ cross-country program.
“Certainly as a coach, you’re excited,” Slater said. “It’s a chance to elevate everything that we do. I think it’s going to give us a chance to see things we haven’t experienced as a school, as an athletic program.
“We also want to keep it in perspective as we do with all of our athletes and all of our activities.”
Greenwood Christian Academy runners opened the regular season Aug. 17 at the Blue River Early Bird Invitational, hosted by Triton Central High School.
As fate would have it, Greenwood was there, too.
Dalton admits the first few minutes being somewhat awkward, though soon after she and many of her former Woodmen teammates were exchanging hugs.
She’ll see them again Saturday at the Franklin Sectional, with Dalton perhaps being on her way to becoming Greenwood Christian’s first state finalist in any sport.
“It would mean a lot. The coaches put so much thought into my running and how well I’m feeling. They’re constantly trying to help me, and I know the administration is, too. And all the teammates and classmates that I have are always cheering me on,” Dalton said.
“To be able to represent both them and also my faith at the state meet would mean a lot to me.”
THE DALTON FILE
Name: Allie Dalton
Family: Parents, Chad and Amanda; brothers, David, 19, and Jonathan, 8; sisters, Lauren, 18, Renee, 15, and Hannah, 13
Favorite TV show: “Psych”
Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite movie: “Elf”
Favorite athlete: Jordan Hasay
Where: Franklin Community High School
Starting times: 10:30 a.m. (boys race); 11:15 a.m. (girls race)
Competing teams: Center Grove, Eminence, Franklin Community, Franklin Central, Greenwood, Greenwood Christian Academy, Monrovia, Mooresville, Perry Meridian, Shelbyville, Southport, Waldron, Whiteland.
Advancement: Top five teams and top 10 individuals from non-advancing teams will compete at the South Dearborn Regional on Oct. 17