Like the cross-country courses she runs, Allie Dalton’s athletics career contains some highs, a few low points and the occasional unexpected turn.
Dalton, whose first two years of high school were at Greenwood Community High School, transferred to nearby Greenwood Christian Academy between her sophomore and junior school years.
On Saturday, the senior finished seventh at the Shelbyville girls cross-country regional in a time of 19:28.
This placing offers no more of an accurate portrayal of Dalton than either of the regional first-place efforts or faster times achieved earlier in her running career.
Diagnosed with an iron deficiency earlier in her running career, Dalton is and has always been a work in progress.
Dalton in her first year at Greenwood Christian managed to win individual honors at the Franklin Community cross-country sectional. She repeated this a week later at the South Dearborn Regional.
Dalton would go on to place 21st at the state finals.
Nonetheless, she wasn’t feeling like the strongest version of herself — physically, mentally or emotionally.
Over this past summer, low iron levels continued to impact Dalton’s stamina. This, in turn, forced her to scale back her training, which didn’t have her prepared for her final season of high school cross-country.
She contemplated not running at all this fall.
“I was ready at one point to give it up, and I thought to myself, ‘No, you don’t want to do that because when you do feel good you’re going to love (running) again,’ ” said Dalton, who now takes supplements in order to increase her iron levels. “I feel a lot better now.
“Because I went through that low point I kind of discovered that I truly do have a love for (running). I asked myself that at some point. ‘Are you doing it because people want you to or because you actually love it?’”
Fair or not, Dalton’s dominance early in her running career paved the way for unrealistic expectations — hers as well as others — when it came to what she would accomplish by the time she graduated high school.
It was never a question of whether Dalton would win a state championship in cross-country and track.
The lone mystery was how many.
Greenwood Christian Academy athletics director Dan Carmichael said Dalton has acclimated to new surroundings as well as any high-profile teenager athlete could.
“I think at the beginning like any student-athlete changing schools it was a little bit of an adjustment. Allie handled the change very well,” Carmichael said. “I think what they were looking for the family got, as far as a Christian school atmosphere.
“The family has adapted well, and it’s a phenomenal family. The part I love about Allie the most is that she’s such a humble student-athlete. It’s not about Allie. It’s about the sport and it’s about her school.”
At Greenwood, Dalton frequently would be far ahead of the other runners during a meet or Saturday invitational.
It was more about racing the numbers of those holding stopwatches.
Though Dalton’s competitive nature is no less than before, Slater feels she is discovering a different satisfaction running among teammates and representatives of other programs.
Still near the front of the pack, but not necessarily leading it.
“When adversity happens there’s a reason for it. God is trying to get your attention, and Allie has leaned into that voice,” Greenwood Christian girls cross-country coach Joe Slater said. “She has come out the other side of this a more joyful person.
“You can see it in your face. You can see it with the interaction with her teammates.”
Dalton carries a 3.86 grade-point average at Greenwood Christian Academy. She would like to major in biology or something pertaining to sports sciences in college.
Unclear as to where that will be, Dalton wants to continue running cross country and track.
“I just think it would be a great way to be integrated into the school. I feel much happier when I’m running with other people,” Dalton said. “This last year when everything kind of started falling apart, during the summer I just had a really low point when I sat down with God and was like, ‘OK, what do you want me to do?’
“I wasn’t sure what His plan was because it’s hard to understand that. I prayed and He started giving me answers, and I realized that I was taking running a little too seriously. God really doesn’t care that much how I compete so much as that I’m competing for Him.”
Dalton aims for a fourth consecutive state finals berth Saturday when she takes part in the Shelbyville Semistate.
For the first time in her high school career she won’t be considered one of the favorites to cross the finish line first.
And that’s just fine.
“She laughs. She smiles. You can tell she’s having fun,” Slater said. “Allie likes to enjoy the experience, and that’s her focus.”
QUITE A RUN
A sampling of Allie Dalton’s postseason accomplishments during her high school cross country and track careers:
1st at Franklin Sectional, 18:53.19
2nd at Greensburg Regional, 18:13.51
5th at Carmel Semistate, 18:17.60
10th at State Finals, 18:23.70
2nd in 3200 (Franklin Sectional), 11:11.68
2nd in 3200 (Shelbyville Regional), 11:01.13
7th in 3200 (State Meet), 10:49.55
1st at Franklin Sectional, 18:32.82
1st at South Dearborn Regional, 18:39.1
1st at Carmel Semistate, 18:08.90
4th at State Finals, 18:03.1
1st in 1600 (Franklin Sectional), 5:10.88
1st in 3200 (Franklin Sectional), 10:56.78
1st in 3200 (Shelbyville Regional), 10:57.14
8th in 3200 (State Meet), 11:00.80
1st at Franklin Sectional, 18:24.64
1st at South Dearborn Regional, 18:02
13th at Carmel Semistate, 18:59.30
21st at State Finals, 18:35.60
2nd in 3200 (Franklin Sectional), 11:32.85
3rd in 3200 (Warren Central Regional), 11:40.58
26th in 3200 (State Meet), 11:48.61
6th at Franklin Sectional, 20:02
7th at Shelbyville Regional, 19:28