By Nick Granados
The women’s individual title at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational, a third place finish en route to the team’s second consecutive championship, and PSAC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week for the week of September 22.
East Stroudsburg University sophomore Allison Decker has accomplished all of that in the first three weeks of her ESU career.
“It’s still settling in,” said Decker, on being named PSAC Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week. “I mean, it feels great, but I just want to focus on the rest of the season.”
A native of Milford, PA, Decker transferred to ESU from Division I Quinnipiac University after her freshman year and has been running since middle school.
It was not until high school that several colleges took notice. “I started getting recruitment letters, I think, in my sophomore year from a lot of the DII and DIII schools.”
It wasn’t just running that led her to ultimately choose Quinnipiac over the other schools. Her desire to become a physical therapist steered her there as well.
“There were only a few schools that had the program,” Decker said. “Quinnipiac was one of them, and they were D-I, so I decided ‘great school, great program, and they have the running [team].” However, Quinnipiac was not quite as Decker expected. “It just wasn’t a good fit,” she said.
After transferring to ESU, Decker already feels a difference. “I’m just so much happier here,” she said. “Professors are so much more willing to work with us, my teammates are amazing, and the coaches are great.”
Decker has also noticed a boost in her running since coming to ESU. She attributes, not just her coaches, but her workouts and teammates for the improvement — most notably junior Chelsea Conover.
“I just ran a 17:50 (5k) and my best ever has been like 19 minutes,” she said. “I run with Chelsea Conover, and she’s played a huge part in me doing so well. The workouts that our coaches have designed for us have played a huge role as well.”
Although the season is still young, Decker considers it to be quite a success thus far.
She also sees the potential in the remainder of the season, as the PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) Championships get closer. “I think the season, as a whole, has been really successful, and I think we’re going to be a big contender once we get to the PSACs,” she said.
ESU will be at the Paul Short Invitational on Saturday, October 4, which Decker acknowledges will have a big impact on the final PSAC standings. “We’ll know more once we race this weekend at Lehigh,” she said. “A lot of the teams that are in the PSAC Conference are going to be there, so we’ll have a better idea of where we fall conference-wise.”
Decker is thrilled with the success that the team has been having, but also has her individual goals on her mind, namely at the NCAA Championships in December. “Personally, I really want to try and get to nationals this year,” she said.
Decker plans on continuing with the cross-country team for the next two years.
After completing her degree at ESU, she plans on attending graduate school. “I want to, probably, go to school in Florida and get my doctorate in PT [Physical Therapy],” said Decker.
As for her first season at ESU, she sees a lot of good things, not just for her, but for her teammates as well.
“There’s a lot of potential. I think if we can all stay healthy and everybody keeps working together, I think we have a shot at being up there,” Decker said. “We’ll see how it plays out.”
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